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At vigil, Weleetka slayings get new attention

BY MANNY GAMALLO Modified: February 16, 2009 at 4:30 am •  Published: February 16, 2009
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WELEETKA — Nearly 100 people gathered around a memorial to two young girls and prayed that the "cloud of evil” over the community is lifted by the capture of the killers.

More than anything else, Sunday’s prayer vigil was aimed at refocusing attention to the slayings in June of Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and the fact that this community is still searching for answers.

As he stood among the crowd, Chuck Simmons, associate pastor of the First Baptist Church, led everyone in prayer, noting that the "evil in the world reminds us how much we depend upon God.”

"There’s a cloud of evil that’s fallen over this place,” he said, asking God "to drive the evil from among us.”

He also prayed that the killers are caught because "we want justice.”

The Rev. Steve Gniech, pastor of the First Baptist Church, standing in front of the memorial, told the crowd he can’t begin to imagine the pain of losing a young child.

"Our souls are stirred with anguish and pain,” Gniech said, adding that "nine months is a long time without justice.”

He also prayed for God’s help in lifting "the cloud of evil” that has settled over the area and hoped that the community "would have the backbone to overcome evil.”

The girls were shot to death on the afternoon of June 8 after they had gone for a walk along County Line Road (N 3890 Road). They were killed about 800 feet from the Placker home.

Their bodies were found along a shallow ditch lining County Line Road, and they were shot a total of 13 times.

Tips still rolling in
An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman said the agency still has several agents pursuing the case and they are still receiving tips.
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Reward is offered

A reward of more than $30,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the slayings. Anyone with information is urged to call the OSBI at (800) 522-8017, or the Okfuskee County Sheriff’s Office at (918) 623-1122.

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