Wed., June. 11, 2008
WELEETKA, Okla. – Maybe they stumbled onto a crime in progress. Perhaps they were ambushed by “drunks and dopeheads.” Or maybe it was some kind of thrill killing.
The slayings of two girls — ages 11 and 13 — who were shot along a rural back road have baffled investigators and struck fear into townspeople, who are now afraid to let their children out of their sight.
“Still no motive, and I hate to say that,” Ben Rosser, an agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said Wednesday. “This could be some kind of random thrill killing, it could be an attempted abduction, it could be somebody that just for whatever reason had a personal motive, maybe mistaken identity or possibly they did interrupt something down near the bridge. We just don’t know.”
Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were killed Sunday afternoon near a bridge. Both had been shot in the head and chest.
Community rattled and shocked
The brutality has rattled this working-class community of 1,000, situated 70 miles south of Tulsa.
Weleetka has long been the type of place folks moved to to escape many of the evils of the world. But townspeople said methamphetamine use — a particular scourge in small-town Oklahoma and elsewhere in the nation’s heartland — has gotten bad around here, and crime is up.
“You think you’re safe anywhere, but you’re not. All the thugs is moving out here, too,” said Skyla’s grandfather, Jimmie Farrow. “It’s a whole new ballgame.”
Investigators said two guns were used in the killings, which suggests there were two gunmen. But beyond that, locals have been left to guess who did it and why.
“I could walk down Main Street in Weleetka and maybe pass the individual and I wouldn’t know it right now,” Rosser said. He added: “This should just hit to the very core of America. I just think two little girls can’t go walking down a country lane road in this day and age. It’s pretty sad.”
Authorities are examining tire tracks, shell casings, bullets and shoeprints for any possible leads. They said they suspect a local person was involved because the killings occurred in such an isolated area. Rosser said that nothing is being ruled out but that there is no indication family or friends were involved. . . . .
Crime, drugs ‘worse than ever’
A neighbor, Ross Padgett, said drugs and the criminal element are worse than ever.
“Marijuana, meth, coke, you name it,” he said. “A number of the meth cookers are right over in this community. They are busting them so hard in the cities, they are going rural.” He lifted his shirt to reveal a 9 mm pistol, saying, “I’m not worried.” Complete story