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OSBI pleads for leads in Weleetka case

JOHNNY JOHNSON Modified: June 9, 2009 at 7:09 am •  Published: June 9, 2009
OKEMAH — A year after two Graham School students were savagely gunned down alongside a secluded country road, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman said the agency is only "one piece of information away” from solving the case. Investigators need the name of the person who did it.

"Give us an idea of who committed this crime,” OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said during a Monday news conference.

After 12 months of not knowing who killed Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, the news conference on the steps of the Okfuskee County Courthouse did not give community members the answers they hoped for.

The only new information dealt with details like how many hours investigators have spent on the case. There are still no suspects. There is no known motive, and Brown said investigators no longer have much hope that a long-elusive "person of interest” has anything useful to offer.

"It’s what I was expecting, but it’s not what I was hoping for,” Graham School Principal Wanda Mankin said.

Skyla’s father, William Whitaker, said it’s especially frustrating knowing that at any given moment, he may be looking into the eyes of the man who killed his little girl.

"I know the person has gotta be somewhere close by,” Whitaker said. "And it hurts knowing that I ... might have seen them at the grocery store and just not known it. I might have been that close.”

For Peter Placker, who found the bodies, the passage of time has not made his loss more bearable. But he said he doesn’t know that solving the case is going to make him feel any better. It won’t bring back the granddaughter he was raising as his daughter.

"I can’t find a reason anymore to smile,” he said. "That girl meant everything to me.”

The investigation
Investigators believe someone has the information, but no one is coming forward. has disabled the comments for this article.