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Amid fear, residents try to heal

By Ken Raymond Modified: June 13, 2008 at 12:18 am •  Published: June 13, 2008
For Weleetka residents, the consequences of Sunday's double-slaying won't end soon.

"The reality of life has intruded on their community,” said Stewart Beasley, an Edmond psychologist who has counseled survivors of other traumatic situations, including the Edmond post office massacre.

Adults are likely to worry more about their children and feel less secure. The longer the case is unsolved, the more unease will grow — especially since investigators think the killer or killers may live in the small community.

"It kind of shakes the foundations of their security that one of their own may have done this,” Beasley said.

Children are particularly susceptible to fear. Those too young to understand what death is will still be aware that their parents and older siblings are behaving differently, he said.

Older children, those in middle school and high school, may feel the need

to spend more time with their peers.

"They will probably want to get together and comfort each other,” Beasley said.

Reactions will certainly vary. While some children will want to discuss what happened, others will grow silent and withdrawn. Some may suffer insomnia or nightmares or even begin sleepwalking.

"When kids are ready to talk, they'll tell you,” Beasley said. "They may not talk about it for weeks, and then it'll start coming up more and more frequently.”

The intense media scrutiny is a blessing and a curse for a community trying to heal, he said.

"They're getting more information than they usually would,” he said, "but it's fueling rumors like crazy.”

Staff Writer

Ken Raymond

Guest book: Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker Guest book: Skyla Jade Whitaker has disabled the comments for this article.

Deaths draw nationwide media attention
From Canada to Georgia, Washington state to Washington, D.C., media outlets are relaying the story about the deaths of two Weleetka girls. Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, were found shot to death Sunday in Okfuskee County near their homes. No arrests have been made.

It has remained the most-viewed story this week on, the Web site of The Oklahoman, with 10 times as many viewers as any other story.

Elsewhere, video updates have appeared on the major TV networks, as well as CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel. Print and online papers have carried the story.

The "America's Most Wanted” Web site profiles the case, and the story appeared on an Internet site for parents, drawing this response from a reader:

"My wife and I pray for the young girls and their families and communities. I was born and raised in southern Kansas, (Arkansas City) and have several family members from Oklahoma. (I know how strong and kind Oklahomans are!) Lets Keep Oklahoma in Our Prayers!”

By Mark Hutchison, Digital News Editor


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