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Investigators searching for person of interest

By John David Sutter Modified: June 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm •  Published: June 13, 2008

OKEMAH — Officials say they are now searching for a man driving a white Ford or Chevy pickup with a black ponytail who may have information into the homicide deaths of two Weleetka girls.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the man is wanted for questioning, but not necessarily a suspect.

"We just want to question this man," she said during a press conference this afternoon in Okemah. "Maybe he saw someone in the area. We don't know if this man is local, we presume that, but we don't know. We have several witnesses who saw the man and we have several witnesses who heard gunshots. Witnesses say he acted suspiciously, but we don't know what he was doing there."

Brown has described the man as American Indian, 6-feet-tall with brown eyes and a long black ponytail. Witnesses said the man was seen standing outside his truck on the county road where the girls were later found dead. Brown said witnesses told investigators that truck was blocking the road around the time of the shooting and the man was standing outside the truck. About six witnesses have given the same account, Brown said.

"This is absolutely solvable," said Brown.

The new details in the case were disclosed as friends and family members attended the funeral for 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker at a Henryetta church. At the funeral, investigators entered the church and took the guest book. Services for Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13 were held this morning in Dewar.

The two girls were shot on a heavily-wooded dirt road near the rural town of Weleetka, OSBI Agent Ben Rosser said authorities "have not hit the wall or run out of leads, by any means."

Rosser did say his investigation is taking officials outside this part of east-central Oklahoma, to places such as Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Seminole. Tips have come in from neighboring states, he said.

Twelve people were working on the investigation in nearby Okemah this morning. At least 10 more officers have been spread out in the other locations, he said.

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