Video: Best friends murdered

By Clint Van Zandt
msnbc.com
updated 6/12/2008 5:04:43 PM ET 2008-06-12T21:04:43
COMMENTARY

It is one of those crimes that defy all attempts at reason. Two young girls, 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker and 13 year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker, were found face down and shot to death in a ditch alongside a dirt road a quarter-mile from Placer’s home. Evidently the clothed bodies of the two murder victims were found by Placker’s grandfather as he walked the lonely road in Weleetka, Okla., on which the girls were last believed to have traveled at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The grandfather was looking for the girls after the two failed to answer his wife’s cell phone call.

Both girls had been shot multiple times in the head and chest before their bodies were dumped into the ditch, the apparent methodical actions of someone who was determined to kill both children. Authorities have indicated that two firearms were used to kill the girls, perhaps suggesting there were two killers.  Now the hunt is on Although their killer(s) could be almost anyone, investigators will consider the statistical likelihood that their murderer is a local, someone who walked among the 1,000 or so town residents without suspicion. 

No information has been released concerning any other injuries to the victims, including any evidence of possible sexual assault, something that would be known by now to investigators working this case.  Potential physical evidence could include, of course, the bullets that were recovered from the bodies of the two victims, spent shell casings, possible DNA related to the offender or offenders, tire tracks, footprints, and cigarette butts on the ground, although the heavy rains all day this past Monday will not help in the evidence recovery efforts.

Weleetka is in Okfuskee County, and although less than 12,000 people live in the entire county, the state lists at least 31 registered sex offenders in and around the county seat alone.  Oklahoma, like other states, has not been exempt to crimes against children. It was on the morning of June 12, 1977, that three young Girl Scouts, ages 8, 9, and 10, were taken from their tent while at a local Girl Scout camp, raped and murdered with their bodies dumped in the nearby woods.

Protecting kids a heavy task
As if that case could be any worse, unknown to the parents of the three murdered girls was the fact that just two months before the three were kidnapped and killed, a camp counselor had found a note in her ransacked belongings by someone vowing to murder three campers.  Less than eight weeks later the threat would become true and the camp would close forever.  A convicted rapist and fugitive was identified in the triple homicide and although authorities believed him guilty, he was acquitted of the three murders in a jury trial, though he would later die in while in jail.

April 19, 1995 saw 19 children die as a result of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, and when we fast-forward to 2006, we find the brutal death of 10-year-old Oklahoma resident Jamie Rose Bolin, murdered by a man who kept a weblog in which he discussed cannibalism and his self-described “dangerously weird fantasies.”  He was arrested after police found the victim’s body in his apartment. Some believe that the subject’s depression contributed to his ability to kidnap, murder and perhaps his terrible plan to cannibalize his young victim in a “Silence of the Lambs” fashion.

Now Oklahoma authorities have yet another terrible crime to solve.  Could the killer(s) be local resident perhaps addicted to drugs or, as the local sheriff has suggested, did the two young victims come upon some type of criminal act, or were they stalked and finally, like so many other victims, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Perhaps the offer of a $25,000 reward will help people talk about what they know, as if there would be any reason to conceal the identity of the possible killer(s), but who will eventually answer the “whys” offered up by the family and friends of the victims?  Local citizens who usually left their keys in their cars and their front doors unlocked may change their ways and children will not be allowed to take summer strolls along the local roads.  This is a crime against all children, parents and members of the community joint we call society.  The killer(s) and the two guns need be found as quickly as possible to bring some sense of security back to this small town, but for the residents of Weleetka, life will never be the same again.

Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC analyst. His Web site, www.LiveSecure.org, provides readers with security-related information.

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