WELEETKA — Rose Whitaker took one look at the man waving at her in the road Sunday and knew something was terribly wrong. "They're gone,” the man said when she pulled up alongside him. "They're both gone. The girls are dead.”
Whitaker's daughter, Skyla Jade, 11, and Skyla's best friend, Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, lay lifeless in a nearby ditch. Each had been shot multiple times in the chest and head. Ballistics tests and autopsies indicate two weapons of different calibers were involved, raising the possibility of more than one killer. For Skyla's family, Wednesday was the hardest day. Forensic investigators returned the girl's body to a funeral home, giving her mother, father and grandparents their first chance to see her since her death. Last weekend, Whitaker let Skyla sleep over at Taylor's house. At 5:08 p.m. Sunday, Whitaker called to let Taylor's grandfather know she was on her way to pick up Skyla. A short time later, the grandfather, Peter Placker, found the girls in a ditch about 300 yards from his home. He waved Whitaker down as she drew near. "Placker stopped her and wouldn't let her get close,” said Claudia Farrow, Skyla's grandmother. "He just held her and said, ‘They're gone.' ” When Farrow found out, she and her husband, Jimmy, broke the news to Skyla's father, James Whitaker. "When we told him, he just went numb,” Claudia Farrow said. At the crime scene, Claudia Farrow bolted toward her granddaughter's body, making it about 50 feet before she was stopped. She just wanted to see her special granddaughter, who'd been in the process of finishing her first quilt for 4-H. The family waited at the scene until 3 a.m. hoping for some answers. There were none to give.
Still no suspectsThree days later, the families of both of the victims don't know much more than they did that first night. In a news conference Wednesday, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Ben Rosser said investigators are trying to find children who talked to the girls often and knew their habits. "We're talking to young people because the victims were young,” Rosser said. "We've got leads, and we're talking to their friends, but a lot of people are harder to find than others.” Earlier Wednesday, investigators said two guns were used in the killings. Jimmy Farrow said he'd been told that the first night. "They said there was a high-powered weapon and a low-powered weapon,” Jimmy Farrow said. Guest book: Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker Guest book: Skyla Jade Whitaker
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Taylor Dawn Paschal-PlackerDakota Padgett, 10, hugs his brother, Devon Padgett, 7, on Wednesday in front of a memorial on the side of a road where Skyla and Taylor were found slain Sunday.An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent loads up a computer that was removed from Taylor Paschal-Placker's home on Wednesday. Taylor was slain Sunday on a dirt road with her friend Skyla Whitaker.A family photo shows Skyla Whitaker with father, James Whitaker. The 13-year-old was shot dead Sunday. Associated Press By David McDaniel, The OklahomanPhoto Provided
How to help•Donations may be sent to the Bank of Commerce, P.O. Box 248, Weleetka, OK 74880.
Reward offered• OSBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Call (800) 522-8017.