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New clues come in Weleetka slayings

SONYA COLBERG Modified: June 8, 2009 at 8:35 am •  Published: June 7, 2009
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Investigators have discovered DNA evidence tied to the shooting deaths last year near Weleetka of Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11.

Details are expected to be released at a Monday news conference.

"We did find something of significance,” said Jessica Brown, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman.

The mystery continues in the deaths of the best friends who, after a sleepover, struck out about 5 p.m. June 8, 2008, for a walk to a bridge in rural Weleetka. Taylor’s grandfather found their bodies about 5:20 p.m. in a shallow roadside ditch several hundred yards from the Placker family home.

Autopsy and ballistics indicate the girls were shot 13 times with two guns: a .40-caliber Glock handgun and a smaller caliber weapon, perhaps a .22.

"I think you can draw from that ... the person who was shooting was making sure these girls could never report what happened,” Brown said.

Brown said investigators won’t release information on the second gun because they want to keep secret some details known only by the killer. No weapons have been discovered, but bullets were found in the bodies and shell casings were found at the scene.

One agent is assigned to the case full time, and up to six agents sometimes are pulled in to work together on the case, Brown said. A criminal analyst organizes the massive amount of information as agents run down every lead, she said.

Leads have declined from the hundreds dug up shortly after the killings, but officials say the case has not grown cold.

"You would hope it never goes cold, but there’s always that possibility,” Brown said.

Resolve stays high
Maxey Reilly, Okfuskee County assistant district attorney, said she’s optimistic about the case.

"We have had some things come up the last year, the last months that are very promising,” Reilly said.

The case has hit some dead ends despite the roughly 15,000 hours OSBI agents spent last fall investigating it. For example, no weapons have been found. A call for registered Glock owners turned up nothing significant and apparently neither did the search of Peter Placker’s computer that was used by his granddaughter Taylor, Brown said.