WEELETKA — Last week, CNN’s Nancy Grace profiled the killings of two Weleetka-area schoolgirls as a "cold case,” but investigators insist the case is nowhere near cold and not in danger of being shelved anytime soon. "It becomes a cold case when we have no more leads to run,” said Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown. "And we’ve still got leads to run, and the head agent is confident this will be solved.” Brown said agents are running "good leads,” but she also admits they have followed good leads before without much result. It’s been five months since 11-year old Skyla Whitaker and 13-year old Taylor Placker were shot to death by two different guns on an isolated county road near Taylor’s house. In the early stages of the investigation, OSBI agents and the Okfuskee County sheriff’s office mounted an around-the-clock operation, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, released a sketch of an American Indian man who may have seen something, and announced a reward of more than $30,000.
No new facts emergeInvestigators have not announced any suspects or motive. Hoping for new leads in the case in late July, authorities released the emotional 911 tape of Taylor’s grandmother’s call to the sheriff’s office. In late August, OSBI agents sent out about 60 letters to registered owners of .40-caliber Glock handguns, asking them to submit their weapons for testing. About 40 submitted their weapons, five said they no longer owned the guns, and about 15 didn’t show up. The agency said they would be contacting the 15 who did not respond. But the weapons investigation has not produced any new developments, OSBI officials said. In early September, Okfuskee County residents hoped that state grand jury proceedings, which included testimony from at least three men who had fallen under suspicion in the crime, would bring some closure. But the grand jury disbanded with no indictments, and a report simply stating "these types of cases are tough.” Later that month, a billboard went up on Interstate 40 seeking information about the slayings of Skyla and Taylor, but that has not produced any breaks, either. Investigators still believe two guns were used to shoot the girls a total of 13 times, indicating there was more than one shooter, and because of the rural location, the shooters likely were from the area. There have not been similar shootings in the area, Brown said. Residents near the area repeatedly have been promised that officers are confident the case is going to be solved but are repeatedly disappointed when that news doesn’t come. Dusty Chancey, superintendent of the Graham School, which both girls attended, has faith investigators working the case won’t let it grow "cold.” "I’m really confident that the sheriff’s office and the OSBI want to get it right,” Chancy said. "I just think they don’t want to rush into something and not get a conviction. I’m pretty sure that’s the way most people feel. You don’t want a technicality to prevent a conviction.”
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