Like many of the 1,000 or so residents of this Okfuskee County town, Mac Riddle has lived in Weleetka his whole life and never felt the need to lock his front door before going to bed. That changed Sunday night. Hours earlier, two girls, ages 13 and 11, were found dead in a ditch beside a dirt road that was less than a mile from one of their homes. Each had multiple gunshot wounds. Riddle and his family didn't know what happened or why it happened, and didn't really know the young girls. All he and his wife, Marsha, knew was that they have a little boy who means the world to them, and the person who shot those girls was still out there. Taylor Paschal-Placker, who just turned 13, and her friend, Skyla Whitaker, 11, were gone, and suddenly Weleetka didn't seem as safe as it did Saturday night. "The whole town is just shocked,” said grocery store owner Tim Williams, who lives about a mile from the scene. "Stuff like this just doesn't happen around here.” Williams said his daughter is scared — and while he set the alarm and locked the house Sunday, doing everything he could to make her feel safer — he's having a hard time with it himself. "I can't believe anybody around here would have done this,” he said. "This is Mayberry. Everybody knows everybody. That's why we live here, and that's why we love it.” Williams said he's never thought about leaving Weleetka. Even though he's setting his security system at night now, he doesn't have any desire to leave town. "This town is home, and it's going to bring people together,” he said. Bob Nelson, chief executive officer of the town's Bank of Commerce, echoed Williams' faith in the townspeople. "You'll probably notice when you come in to town, people like to wave and speak to you,” he said. "It's just our way of saying welcome to the area.” Across the road from the bank, Stacey Rice said he was working as a police officer when he got the call. "I was the second officer on the scene,” he said. "It was the first time I had ever seen a crime like that. And it's affected more than just those families. This has affected the whole town.” Rice, a police officer and paramedic, said he is worried about his teenage boys, and he said he can only imagine what other parents in town are feeling. "There's not much you can say to comfort them, either,” he said. "Kids have the right to be outside without being in danger. You can say parents can help by taking precautions and keeping a close eye on their kids, but there are just no guarantees.” Contributing: State Correspondent Sheila Stosgdill and The Associated Press
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