Slaying of girls shocks town
BY MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
6/11/08 at 1:01 AM
The two were shot after going for a walk Sunday, the Okfuskee County sheriff said.
WELEETKA — The slayings of two girls along a rural road near here has left Okfuskee County Sheriff Jack Choate Sr. searching for answers.
The bodies of Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whittaker, 11, were found Sunday afternoon along County Line Road, which separates Okfuskee and Okmulgee counties. They had been shot.
"What reason could a person have to kill an 11- and 13-year-old girl?" Choate asked. "There's no reason for that."
"For any kid like that, any child, it's such a needless waste" of life.
No one has been arrested in connection with the deaths.
By Monday afternoon, residents were leaving flowers and other mementoes as a makeshift memorial to the girls at the site where their bodies were found.
The longtime friends lived in the outskirts of Weleetka, more than two miles northeast of the city. They attended the rural Graham school district, Choate said.
Their bodies were found along the west side of County Line Road, about three-fourths of a mile north of Coleman Road, the sheriff said.
Each girl had been shot several times.
Choate said the girls' bodies were found by Taylor's father, who had gone looking for the pair.
However, family members told The Associated Press it was Taylor's grandfather, Peter Placker, who found the bodies.
Choate said the Okmulgee County Sheriff's Office contacted his department shortly after 4 p.m. after receiving a 911 call.
Skyla was visiting the Placker home when the girls decided to go for a walk "as they often did," Choate said. Their bodies were found about 30 minutes later.
According to Choate, Skyla's mother called the Placker home and said she would drop by to pick up her daughter.
At that point, the sheriff said, Taylor's family went looking for the girls, and their bodies were found about one-fourth of a mile north of the home.
"I can't describe coming up on it," a sobbing Peter Placker told the AP as he tried to remember walking up on the scene. "I did it once, and I can't do it again."
Skyla was the carefree adventurer, the girl who walked barefoot almost everywhere and rode her bicycle down endless dirt roads, said her grandmother, Claudia Farrow. Where she went, her many cats followed, along with her pet goat. Skyla wanted to become a veterinarian, Farrow said.
Taylor was a big-hearted girl who rescued helpless turtles crawling in the middle of the road and wanted to become a forensic scientist, like on the TV shows, said Peter Placker, who said he raised Taylor like she was his daughter even though he was her biological grandparent.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has been called in for help in the case. Choate said authorities combed County Line Road for evidence Sunday and again on Monday.
The sheriff said some clues have been found and that his office has come up with possible suspects. He would not elaborate on any evidence found, nor would he say how many suspects are involved.
Choate said authorities still are trying to determine if the girls were killed by someone driving a car along the road "or whether someone just walked out of the woods and shot them."
"We're not eliminating anything at this point," he said, as the OSBI and his deputies continued their search for more clues or possible witnesses.
Choate asked that anyone with information call his office at (918) 623-1122 or the OSBI at 1-800-522-8017.
Their killings have shocked much of the area's residents, he said.
"Murders are rare in this county," Choate said, noting the last homicide there occurred nearly three years ago.
Manny Gamallo 581-8386
email@example.com The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The bodies of Taylor Paschal- Placker, 13 and Skyla Jade Whittaker, 11, were found Sunday along a rural road near Weleetka in Okfuskee County. ARAM BOGHOSIAN / Tulsa World