ANADARKO — It's been a year since the body of an Anadarko church pastor was found mutilated behind the altar of the sanctuary where she preached Sundays to small congregations.
Authorities still are waiting for a break in the investigation into the killing of the Rev. Carol Daniels. No arrests have been made, but Daniels' mother has not given up hope.
Daniels, 61, was pastor of Christ Holy Sanctified Church. On Aug. 23, 2009, she traveled from Oklahoma City as she always did Sundays. It apparently was one of those Sundays when no church members showed up for services, but someone did enter the building.
Police found Daniels' nude body in what appeared to be a "crucifix position." The autopsy report revealed the pastor's hair had been set on fire and her head nearly severed.
In the past year, there have been fewer than 100 possible leads in the case, said Stan Florence, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation inspector.
"We've had some good leads, but they have not come in like you'd expect in a high-profile case," Florence said.
Learning to cope
The pastor's mother, Charles Etta Dunlap, 82, of Oklahoma City, said that with the passage of time, she is coping better. She said she hasn't heard from a law officer or investigator in about six months.
She does keep in touch with members of Daniels' congregation. She attended a memorial ceremony at the demolished church site in July.
"I'm still hoping they find whoever did it," she said. "This will be particularly hard now (to solve) because it has been a year."
Florence said he thinks the case will be solved.
"We firmly believe there is somebody who has some information about this case," Florence said.
Daniels' body was mutilated in a manner that some investigators said appeared to be a ritualistic killing. The body appeared to have been left in the form of a cross with both arms outstretched. The killer took Daniels' clothes and sprayed a dissolving chemical around the body that can destroy DNA evidence.
The Rev. Ezra Randall said funds are being raised for a permanent memorial at the site of the former church.
Randall, pastor of Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Elk City, said the fears people had about going to church in the days after the brutal killing have subsided. People in the church community and those who knew Daniels seem to be recovering, he said.
"They are coping," Randall said. "I think everyone seems to be getting on with their lives. They're healing."
Dunlap said she does not think her daughter died in vain.
"I just hope people will live the life that Carol did and turn to Christ," she said. "Good can come from something terrible happening."
How to Help
State investigators said there is a $15,000 reward offered for information in the slaying of the Rev. Carol Daniels at her small church in Anadarko. Anyone who has information is asked to call the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at (800) 522-8017.