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 dispatcher who is no stranger to dire situations and grief-stricken callers. "What happened now, ma'am?” "I don't know — they went for a walk and they're both down here dead!” the frantic woman screams. "They're down there dead?” the dispatcher clarifies. "They're dead!” the woman howls. In the seconds that follow, the dispatcher tries to get information to pinpoint where the woman lives. The woman begs for help — help from the dispatcher, help from God, help from anyone. But it's already too late.Comments
Releasing the call"Breaks your heart, doesn't it?” Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said, referring to the woman's raw emotional response to losing two girls who were gunned down in a firestorm of bullets. Six weeks ago, Brown said the family of Taylor Paschal-Placker had asked investigators not to release the tape of the 911 call made by Taylor's grandmother on June 8, after Taylor and her best friend, Skyla Whitaker, were found shot to death up the road from Taylor's house. At the time, authorities said family members thought it would be too hard to relive it — they just weren't sure they could take it. Despite open records requests and media inquiries, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said it would not turn over the recording because of the family's request. When pressed, officials said the emotional tape was part of the investigation and that releasing it would not further that investigation. But after a month and a half of chasing down hundreds of leads, many of which turned out to be pranks or people seeking revenge against others, investigators still have no suspects or motive in the killings, and they've had no luck identifying the apparent American Indian man with a long ponytail who was deemed a person of interest. With media attention fading and growing fears from the community that the case might turn "cold,” investigators decided that the raw emotion that six weeks ago would do nothing to further the case might now be the best chance to finally close it. Family members agreed, saying they would relive the moments over and over again, and endure listening to it on radio and TV if it meant catching those responsible. The idea, Brown said, is that someone knows who the killers are and will hear a grandmother's heart breaking and realize what the senseless killing has done to that family and to the whole community — and that person will come forward. "Give us an idea of a place to look,” Brown said. "Because this person — these people — need to be caught.”
The investigation continuesWhile the public may perceive that investigators are no closer to solving the double murder than they were when it happened on June 8, Brown insists that's not the case. But while officers have been working long hours to respond to more than 500 leads, Brown said it would be nice to actually get some calls that were legitimate, instead of calls from people using the investigation as a prank or — as one sheriff's deputy said — a way to exact revenge on an ex-husband. Since that time, investigators have cleared nearly 100 people who are not suspects.