Weleetka Murders
Weleetka Murders -- On June 8, 2008 Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were shot a total of 13 times on a dirt road between Okmulgee and Okfuskee counties.

Archived articles from NewsOK.com

  • Has Weleetka case gone ‘cold?’

    BY JOHNNY JOHNSON | Updated: Sun, Nov 16, 2008

    WEELETKA — Last week, CNN’s Nancy Grace profiled the murders of two Weeletka-area school girls 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...

  • Billboard seeks hint in Weleetka slayings
    Investigators hope reminder will draw witnesses forward.

    By Sheila Stogsdill | Updated: Thu, Sep 25, 2008

    HENRYETTA — Construction of a billboard featuring reward information in the slaying of two Weleetka girls will begin today, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday. Oklahoma Crime Stoppers, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Lamar Outdoor Advertising have teamed...

  • District is 'corrupt,' grand jury suggests

    By Randy Ellis | Updated: Fri, Sep 5, 2008

    A "culture of corruption” continues to taint the Kiamichi Technology Center School District despite indictments and lengthy investigations, a state grand jury said in a report issued Friday. The grand jury noted it was the second multicounty grand jury to investigate criminal misuse of public...

  • Witnesses conclude Weleetka testimony

    By Nolan Clay and Johnny Johnson | Updated: Thu, Sep 4, 2008

    A woman and her boyfriend were arrested Thursday in Okmulgee and taken in clanging shackles to Oklahoma City to testify to what they knew about the fatal shooting of two girls. Windy Espinosa, 34, and Larry Peyton Smith, 34, testified Thursday before a state grand jury that is helping state...

  • 2 more witnesses appear before grand jury in Weleetka shootings

    By Nolan Clay and Johnny Johnson | Updated: Thu, Sep 4, 2008

    A man and woman believed to be witnesses in the in the fatal shootings of two Weleetka girls arrived at the Oklahoma County Courthouse at 11:30 a.m. Wearing shackles, the pair was escorted under guard to the second day of multicounty grand jury proceedings on the case. They are the fourth...

  • Weleetka witnesses face grand jury

    By Nolan Clay and Johnny Johnson | Updated: Thu, Sep 4, 2008

    © Copyright 2008, The Oklahoman Three men who have come under suspicion in the fatal shootings near Weleetka testified Wednesday before a state grand jury. Two other witnesses failed to appear. The grand jury's judge ordered them arrested. Agents at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation...

  • Grand jury grills three men in Weleetka killings

    By Nolan Clay and Johnny Johnson | Updated: Wed, Sep 3, 2008

    Copyright, 2008 The Oklahoman Three men who have come under suspicion in the fatal shootings near Weleetka testified Wednesday before a state grand jury. Two other witnesses failed to appear. The grand jury’s judge ordered them arrested. Agents at the Oklahoma State Bureau of...

  • State Briefs: Saturday, August 23, 2008

    | Updated: Fri, Aug 22, 2008

    WELEETKA Firearm identified in deaths The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that a .40-caliber Glock was one of two weapons used in the unsolved slayings of 13-year-old Taylor Placker and 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker of Weleetka. The girls were shot to death nearly 11 weeks...

  • Gun tests may solve girls' case
    Crime: Weapons fired in slayings investigation

    By Matt Dinger | Updated: Tue, Aug 19, 2008

    OKEMAH — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation test fired .40-caliber handguns voluntarily submitted by their owners last weekend in an attempt to narrow the search for one of the weapons used in the June slayings of two girls in a rural area near Weleetka. The agency sent out letters to...

  • Investigators work many hours in slaying case

    Published: Mon, Aug 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...

  • At school, love is greatest asset

    By Bryan Painter | Updated: Sat, Aug 9, 2008

    WELEETKA — Wanda Mankin recently was flipping through a stack of tests taken in the spring by students of Graham Schools. The elementary principal had wanted to get their attention on the first day of class about the importance of earning good grades. Instead, the stack itself got her...

  • Autopsy results offer clues in two girls' slayings near Weleetka

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Sat, Aug 9, 2008

    WELEETKA — Two months after the bullet-riddled bodies of Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were found alongside a gravel road, the medical examiner's office has released results of the girls' autopsies. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the autopsy...

  • Near Weleetka, a sad reminder awaits students returning to class

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Thu, Aug 7, 2008

    WELEETKA — Today is the first day of classes at Graham Public Schools — and despite the best efforts of teachers and administrators, much will be different. Two months ago, the 100-student school lost two of its pupils in an act of violence that has paralyzed the community with fear. "It's a hard...

  • Slain Weleetka girls' classmates return to school

    Updated: Wed, Aug 6, 2008

    WELEETKA (AP) - Students at the Graham Independent School District will remember two slain classmates when their summer vacation ends and they return to school Thursday. Students will receive rubber bracelets inscribed with the letters BFF — Best Friends Forever — in honor of classmates Skyla...


  • ‘Deleted' clues help solve crimes

    By Augie Frost | Updated: Tue, Aug 5, 2008

    You may think you deleted that file from your computer. You might think emptying the recycle bin will erase it forever. But deep in the recesses of your hard drive, the file remains intact and can be found — by someone who knows how to look. The same is true for any device that stores data...

  • To help catch killer, girls' kin relive 911 call
    Crime: Recording captures anguish in Weleetka case

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2008

    OKEMAH — She heaves uncontrollably as she holds her cell phone and tries to dial those three numbers she always hoped she'd never need. The phone rings twice before an Okmulgee County emergency dispatcher answers the 911 call. The conversation that follows is painful — apparently even for the...

  • Investigators call for Weleetka murder witnesses to step forward

    By Hailey R. Branson | Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2008

    WELEETKA — Investigator have eliminated nearly 100 names from a list of suspects in connection with the June 8 murder of two young girls, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation official said this morning. The OSBI initially had around 500 persons of interest, said Jessica Brown, spokeswoman...

  • State Briefs

    | Updated: Sun, Jul 20, 2008

    WELEETKA Police releasing 911 call The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation today will release an excerpt of the 911 call made moments after two girls were shot to death last month on a rural Okfuskee County road outside of Weleetka. Officials also plan to share information regarding...

  • OSBI to shed light on probe into Weleetka killings

    Updated: Fri, Jul 18, 2008

    OKEMAH, Okla. (AP) _ Investigators looking into last month's killings of two girls just outside of Weleetka say they plan to release new details about their investigation. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is planning to hold a news conference on Monday outside the Okfuskee County...

  • Message is found at girls' memorial
    Investigators doubt discovery will lead to clues.

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008

    WELEETKA — It's unclear whether a message scrawled in marker on a roadside memorial cross was meant to taunt investigators or be a joke. Either way, it is a stark reminder why people in a previously low-crime area of rural Okfuskee County started locking their doors last month. "It said something...

  • Girls' deaths underscore need for after-school safety

    By Bryan Painter | Updated: Thu, Jul 10, 2008

    The school bus pulls up in front of the house. The driver pulls the lever and the door squeezes open. The child goes down the steps and heads for the front porch. How long will it be before that child is under adult supervision again? Is a parent or grandparent inside? Or is the house empty? Will...

  • Weleetka case not progressing
    A month after slayings, authorities lack suspects.

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Mon, Jul 7, 2008

    WELEETKA — A month has passed since two girls were shot to death on a rural Okfuskee County road, and investigators do not appear to be much closer to solving the crime than they were the day it happened. No arrests have been made. No suspects have been identified. No motive has been...

  • Specially trained dog works crime scene

    From Staff Reports | Updated: Thu, Jun 26, 2008

    A specially trained dog was brought in Wednesday to re-examine the area along a rural Oklahoma road where two young girls were killed. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the dog is normally assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives...

  • ATF dog examines site of girls' deaths near Weleetka

    Published: Wed, Jun 25, 2008

    WELEETKA - A specially trained dog was brought in Wednesday to re-examine the area along a rural Oklahoma road where two young girls were killed. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the dog is normally assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and...

  • Helping your children cope with recent tragedies

    By Bryan Painter | Updated: Tue, Jun 24, 2008

    I was 11 years old when a man murdered Kevin Tapp of Enid in the summer of 1976. Kevin was also 11. I was 12 years old when someone murdered three Girl Scouts — Lori Lee Farmer, 8, of Tulsa; Michelle Guse, 9, of Broken Arrow; and Doris Denise Milner, 10, of Tulsa — at Camp Scott near Locust Grove...

  • Help with case comes across boundary lines

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Sat, Jun 21, 2008

    WELEETKA — Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice hasn't watched much news lately, but he knows his Okfuskee County counterpart, Sheriff Jack Choate, is in a tough spot. He also knows all that separated him from being in that tough spot is a distance of about 20 feet. If 13-year-old Taylor...

  • Weleetke's no dot on a map, but still a community

    By Bryan Painter | Updated: Thu, Jun 19, 2008

    WELEETKA — In the fall, they'll come with money in hand to the pie supper. Why? Because, they know the money will fill paper sacks with an apple, an orange and 2 pounds of candy to be handed out to children by Santa Claus at the school Christmas program. Through the year, if they know you,...

  • Few signs of progress in inquiry into girls' deaths

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Wed, Jun 18, 2008

    After 10 days of investigation, there were still no clear suspects or motive revealed for the death of two girls found shot to death on the side of an Okfuskee County road. Taylor Paschal-Placker 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were shot multiple times in the head and chest on June 8 after they went...

  • Search for girls' killer enters 10th day

    Updated: Wed, Jun 18, 2008

    TULSA (AP) - Authorities have entered a 10th day without suspects or a motive in the June 8 slayings of two young girls along a back country road near Weleetka. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Wednesday investigators are pursuing hundreds of leads in the...

  • Weleetka arrest creates false hope

    By Hailey R. Branson and Johnny Johnson | Updated: Wed, Jun 18, 2008

    WELEETKA — Since his 13-year-old niece and her best friend were gunned down and left on the side of a county road June 8, Joe Mosher and his family have spent a lot of time glued to the TV, praying the unknown shooters would be caught. Tuesday morning it looked like those prayers had finally been...

  • Town tries to find normalcy

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Tue, Jun 17, 2008

    WELEETKA — Residents of this rural town tried to move on Monday morning from fears that the person or people who shot and killed two girls — ages 11 and 13 — may still be in their midst. But pictures of a man wanted in connection with the killings — possibly just as a witness — kept bringing them...

  • Search continues for girls' killer

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Mon, Jun 16, 2008

    OKEMAH — Tape of the 911 call made last week shortly after the gunshot deaths of two young girls won't be released, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman said today. Jessica Brown said tape of the call made by the grandfather of one of the girls will not be...

  • Girls' slayings give town new unity

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Sun, Jun 15, 2008

    OKEMAH — When sheriff's office Chaplain Michael Grigsby walked into the Okfuskee County Courthouse on Friday clutching his morning cup of coffee, he was greeted by one of the jail's inmates. "Hey preacher,” the man said. "Let's pray today's gonna be a good day.” Not fully understanding the...

  • Mourners offer sympathy, gifts for slain girls

    By Sheila Stogsdill | Updated: Sat, Jun 14, 2008

    WELEETKA — Traffic was heavy Saturday on a usually seldom-traveled rural county road as mourners stopped to place flowers and other mementos on a makeshift memorial to two young girls. Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were shot to death June 8 along a dirt road near...

  • New sketch fuels hope in slayings

    By John David Sutter | Updated: Sat, Jun 14, 2008

    WELEETKA — Officials announced Friday they are searching for a man with a black ponytail and driving a white Ford or Chevy pickup who may have information on the recent shooting deaths of two girls here. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said at a news conference in...

  • FUNERALS: Nurture love, mourners told

    By Ron Jackson | Updated: Sat, Jun 14, 2008

    HENRYETTA — One unanswered question hung over the funerals Friday for gunshot victims Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker and Skyla Jade Whitaker: Why? In separate services, hundreds of relatives and friends grappled with the realizationthat both girls were truly gone, leaving the living to struggle...

  • Investigators searching for person of interest

    By John David Sutter | Updated: Fri, Jun 13, 2008

    OKEMAH — Officials here appear to have widened their search for suspects in the brutal killings of two girls, ages 11 and 13. Investigators have revealed little information and appear to have no suspects five days after the two girls were shot on a heavily-wooded dirt road near...

  • Slain girl mourned in first funeral of the day

    By Ron Jackson | Updated: Fri, Jun 13, 2008

    HENRYETTA — Several hundred people filled the Dewar First Baptist Church this morning to remember one of the two girls gunned down on a rural Okfuskee County road earlier this week. The body of Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, lay in a pristine white casket draped with a blanket...

  • Amid fear, residents try to heal

    By Ken Raymond | Updated: Fri, Jun 13, 2008

    For Weleetka residents, the consequences of Sunday's double-slaying won't end soon. "The reality of life has intruded on their community,” said Stewart Beasley, an Edmond psychologist who has counseled survivors of other traumatic situations, including the Edmond post office massacre. Adults are...

  • Hitting a roadblock in 2 girls' slayings

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Fri, Jun 13, 2008

    WELEETKA — In the biggest and most visible investigative effort since two girls were gunned down Sunday, state agents and local officials closed an isolated stretch of County Line Road on Thursday for another look at the scene. Investigators hovered over the area in a helicopter, searching the...

  • Witness tells of seeing girls before they were shot

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Thu, Jun 12, 2008

    WELEETKA — Investigators have blocked off the dirt road this afternoon where two girls were found shot to death Sunday evening. Agents can be seen using global positioning devices, possibly to map the area where Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, were...

  • For slain girls' kin, pain keeps coming

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Thu, Jun 12, 2008

    WELEETKA — Rose Whitaker took one look at the man waving at her in the road Sunday and knew something was terribly wrong. "They're gone,” the man said when she pulled up alongside him. "They're both gone. The girls are dead.” Whitaker's daughter, Skyla Jade, 11, and Skyla's best friend, Taylor...

  • For mother, slayings bring back memories

    By Ron Jackson | Updated: Thu, Jun 12, 2008

    BRISTOW — Phillis Middleton is haunted daily by her youngest daughter's abduction and strangulation three years ago in Okfuskee County. Now, painful images of her "9-year-old, blond-haired cutie,” Katie Daylynn, flash in her mind in light of Okfuskee County's latest tragedy — the abduction and...

  • Double murder is high profile, high pressure for police

    | Updated: Thu, Jun 12, 2008

    Detectives investigating high-profile child slayings face intense pressure. "The case grabs everyone's attention immediately,” said Oklahoma City police homicide Detective Cris Cunningham. "The interest that these cases generate is so much more magnified.” And much of that pressure comes from the...

  • Around Weleetka, shock but no answers

    By Bryan Painter | Updated: Wed, Jun 11, 2008

    WELEETKA — "This is the mother of all wrongness.” Tension far exceeded the thick June humidity as Graham School Superintendent Dusty Chancey cut to the point Tuesday. "There's a lot of anger out there right now,” said Chancey, a man with a stern look, a shaved head and a salt and red pepper...

  • Investigators: 2 guns used to kill girls near Weleetka

    Updated: Wed, Jun 11, 2008

    WELEETKA (AP) - Investigators: Two guns used to kill two rural Oklahoma girls, dual gunmen presumed.

  • Investigation: No suspects, officials say

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Wed, Jun 11, 2008

    WELEETKA — Shortly after two girls were found brutally murdered along a dirt road near this small town Sunday afternoon, the rumors around Okfuskee County started to spread like wildfire: •"They caught the guy who did it.” • "They have three guys in custody.” • "He confessed, and said he didn't...

  • Girls' deaths draw a torrent of sympathy

    By Susan Simpson | Updated: Wed, Jun 11, 2008

    The Mitchell family of North Little Rock, Ark., likely never met Taylor Paschal-Placker. But news of her death and that of a young friend touched them greatly. "Every human's heart must be breaking at this moment in time,” the Mitchells wrote on the online guestbook for Placker on NewsOK.com. The...

  • Clues sought in slaying of girls in Weleetka

    By Johnny Johnson | Updated: Tue, Jun 10, 2008

    WELEETKA — The two young girls found dead in a ditch along a dirt road in Okfuskee County had been shot multiple times in the head and the chest, according to the State Medical Examiner's office. Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, were found Sunday...

  • Seeking answers in Weleetka deaths

    From Staff Reports | Updated: Tue, Jun 10, 2008

    Weleetka girls Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, were best friends. The first, described by a family member as a big-hearted girl with no enemies, and the second, known as a carefree adventurer, often traveled the road near Taylor's house to play in the rural pastures....