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Investigators work many hours in slaying case

Oklahoman Published: August 11, 2008
TULSA -- The investigation into the slaying of two young girls in Okfuskee County has become among the most intense ever handled by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which so far has spent more than 10,000 man hours on the case.

Those hours do not include the efforts of federal agents, sheriff's deputies and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to track hundreds of leads and question scores of people about the slayings, said OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown.

The OSBI was called in on the case by the Okfuskee County Sheriff's Office just hours after the bodies of Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, were found June 8 along County Line Road, four miles northeast of Weleetka.

The two had gone walking along the road toward the Bad Creek bridge, about a half mile north of Taylor's home. Authorities said the two had made it to the bridge and were returning to Taylor's home when they were ambushed.

Their bullet-riddled bodies were found in a shallow roadside ditch, less than 1,000 feet from the Placker home. They had been shot a total of 13 times.

The OSBI said the girls were shot with two weapons, leading them to believe two killers are involved.

Also, given the remote location of the crime scene, the OSBI believes the killers are from the Weleetka area.

From the outset, the OSBI had more than a dozen agents working round-the-clock on the case, and that effort still continues more than two months after the slayings. Ten to 12 OSBI agents, including a criminal analyst, are still investigating the case daily, including weekends, Brown said.

She said agents are working 12-hour shifts, but oftentimes they work 16-hour shifts because of late-breaking leads.

"We've had some who have worked on the case for 24 hours nonstop. I don't know how they did that, but they did," Brown said.

She said the investigation involves a lot of legwork on the part of agents, primarily checking out the more than 560 leads they have received in the case.

More than half of those leads have been checked out, she said, noting that new leads are now less numerous and less frequent.

Brown said the OSBI is optimistic that the case eventually will be solved.

"We have some really good leads now that are taking us to new directions," Brown said without elaborating.

In addition to checking on leads, she said, agents have now questioned more than 100 people — with many more to go — as they hunt for suspects.

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