WELEETKA — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is offering a $5,000 reward for one of the guns used in the slaying of two Weleetka girls, and officials say it could be evidence that could help solve the case.
The gun is a Glock .40-caliber model 22 handgun with the serial number EKG463US, agency spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.
“I'm very excited,” Okfuskee County Sheriff Jack Choate said. “I think if we can recover this weapon it might be what breaks open this case.”
Whoever has the gun is not suspected of any crimes and likely doesn't know it was used in the girls' killings, Brown said.
“We have been running leads for three years,” Brown said. “This is the result of great detective work and investigations.”
After the 2008 killings, investigators began ballistics tests to determine more about the gun that fired the .40-caliber shell casings found at the scene.
Investigators, using tips and other information, were able to come up with a serial number, Choate said.
By now, the gun could have been sold one or more times.
Joe Mosher, great uncle of victim Taylor Paschal-Placker, said the family is cautiously optimistic.
“If they know the serial number, I think it means they know something more,” Mosher said. “We're hoping something comes of this.”
Leads are coming in daily to the Okfuskee County sheriff's office, and Brown said agents regularly get tips. OSBI investigators continue to explore leads and are looking at several suspects.
Choate said he's confident the killers are still in the area.
Portions of the OSBI investigation file in November were given to an FBI behavioral analysis unit focusing on crimes against child victims, including abductions, homicides and sexual victimization.
Brown said she couldn't release any information about the profile reports other than to say “they were helpful.”
On Sept. 20, OSBI officials said they were looking for a gun believed to have been sold after it was used in the commission of a crime. At the time, they did not mention a connection with the Weleetka case.
A $1,000 reward was offered for information leading to the gun, but that generated no leads, Brown said.
Two separate guns were used to kill Skyla Whitaker, 11, and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, on June 8, 2008. The two best friends were shot multiple times as they walked down a rural dirt road four miles northeast of Weleetka. Investigators said they appeared to have walked to the bridge and were returning home when they were killed.
Shell casings but no weapons were found at the scene. Brown declined to release information about the second gun.
An autopsy report does not list the caliber or types of bullets found; but the report indicates two different bullets, a medium-size copper-jacketed bullet and a small-size copper-coated bullet, were
The report showed Taylor was shot five times: three times in the face, once in the groin and in her right hand. The shot to Taylor's hand could have been one of the same shots that struck her in the head. Two of the shots were ruled potentially fatal.
Skyla was shot a total of eight times, including once in the neck, and seven spread out widely around the arms and torso.
Medical examiners found no evidence of sexual trauma. Gunshots from both guns were found on both girls.
Anyone with information about the deaths of Taylor Paschal-Placker and Skyla Jade Whitaker can call the OSBI at (800) 522-8017 or the Okfuskee County sheriff's office at (918) 623-1122.
A reward of up to $160,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the slayings.