TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Investigators will publicly discuss next week the unsolved murders of two young girls found shot to death nearly a year ago along a dirt road in rural Okfuskee County, officials said Wednesday. Meanwhile, family members of the childhood friends are pleading for anyone with knowledge of the grisly crimes to come forward with information. "Somebody has to know something," said Vicky Placker, who raised 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker as a daughter even though she was the girl's biological grandmother. Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the slayings of Taylor and her friend, 11-year-old Skyla Jade Whitaker, near the town of Weleetka, about 70 miles south of Tulsa. It is also when investigators have called a 10:30 a.m. news conference in front of the Okfuskee County Courthouse in Okemah to talk about the case. "We haven't made an arrest," Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Wednesday. "I wish we would." Brown estimated that hundreds of leads have been pursued in the unsolved murder case. By last fall, the OSBI had logged nearly 15,000 man-hours investigating the deaths. "Now, the leads are not coming in as much as they were, and that's to be expected," Brown said. "Most of the leads that came in were not good leads. "People wanting to help, 'hey, my ex-boyfriend could have done this because he's a creep,' we still have to follow those," she said. The girls' murder last year stunned the working-class community of 1,000, a remote place people moved to escape the evils of the world. Taylor's family had moved there to get her away from the violence in Oklahoma City. Skyla's moved from Baxter Springs, Kan., outside of Joplin, Mo., for a taste of the simple life. Both families thought they found what they were looking for along an isolated country road, where the neighbors are hidden from one another by acres — and sometimes miles — of thick woods. The girls became fast friends, and usually walked to each others' houses for sleepovers. June 8 of last year, the girls were sleeping over at Taylor's house and decided to take a walk down the desolate road. Authorities don't know if they happened onto a crime in progress, if they were victims of an attempted abduction or targets of a thrill killing, but the pair were gunned down near a bridge about a quarter-mile from Taylor's house. Taylor's grandfather discovered the bodies after becoming worried when his wife tried calling the girl's cell phone and got no answer. Skyla had been shot eight times; Taylor five. Investigators believe two different guns were used, leading to the presumption at least two people were involved. The isolated location of the crime also led investigators to believe that the shooters were local. "It's such a remote area," Brown said. "You really have to know the area pretty well." After the killings, investigators released a drawing of a tall man with American Indian features whom witnesses described seeing near the murder scene around the time of the killings, but that man didn't come forward for questioning. In the past months, the Plackers moved away from the area because they said it was too painful to keep passing the scene of the killings so close to home. "It kills me to even think about it," Vicky Placker said in a telephone interview. "Taylor was the best thing to ever happen to us. "Half the time, I don't even want to get out of bed," she said, sobbing.
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