ANADARKO — Life seemingly has returned to normal in this small Caddo County town. Merchants greet visitors with a smile, children flock through the neighborhoods after school, and gamblers populate two Indian casinos. Yet in the shadows of this modest community investigators search doggedly for the answers to two recent tragedies — a downtown fire and a brutal homicide. The grisly Aug. 23 slaying of the Rev. Carol Daniels garnered international attention after her mutilated body was found on a Sunday afternoon inside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church. Sources told The Oklahoman Daniels was found nude and in what appeared to be a "crucifix position” behind the altar. A day earlier, firefighters battled a downtown blaze that destroyed the Tornado Alley Bar and the offices of The Anadarko Daily News — a Caddo County fixture that traces its roots back to 1901. Authorities have not ruled out arson. "Right now, the fire is still listed as undetermined,” said Joanne Sellars, assistant state fire marshal. "Our agent is still doing interviews and follow-ups. ... We’re working in tandem with local law enforcement and authorities.” Progress also is slow in the homicide investigation, which Sellars said doesn’t appear to be connected to the fire "at this time.” No arrests have been made. Still, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents continue to track down a steady flow of leads, spokeswoman Jessica Brown said. "We still have real good leads,” Brown said. "But good leads come and go.” An arrest couldn’t come too soon for Charles Etta Dunlap, the victim’s mother. Dunlap spends her days retracing faces and moments in her mind. They are images that might solve this case. "I think about it all the time,” Dunlap said. "Of course, at the time when you’re meeting people, you’re not thinking of anything. But now ... I have thoughts — thoughts I have shared with authorities.”
Newspaper to rebuildThe Anadarko Daily News staff members remain dedicated to covering the pastor’s slaying and other news despite their recent hardship. Editor and co-publisher Carolyn McBride said the newspaper’s 11 employees continue to churn out the local news in cramped quarters behind an art gallery. Despite the fire, the newspaper never missed an issue. Thanks to the generosity of The El Reno Tribune and the dedication of the Daily News staff, the newspaper is printed daily after a 51-mile drive to downtown El Reno. "Our readers paid for a newspaper, and we felt like we owed them a newspaper, or at least the best we could give them under the circumstances,” McBride said. "Our readers have been amazing. We haven’t heard one complaint. Everyone has been so understanding. And our staff has been great. "We’ve gotten the newspaper out because everyone is willing to work crazy hours.” Normalcy may return soon for the staff. Pending insurance approval, The Anadarko Daily News will rebuild on the downtown lot where it has served customers since 1937. "We’re not going anywhere,” McBride promised. "This is what we do.”
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