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Police say slain pastor's body 'staged' in church

Authorities say the body of a pastor killed inside her small Oklahoma church was "staged," meaning it was moved into an unnatural position, after the slaying.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Whoever killed a pastor inside her small Oklahoma church “staged” the body, authorities said Thursday, meaning it was moved into an unnatural position after the slaying.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown declined to elaborate on how the body of 61-year-old Carol Daniels was positioned inside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko.

Brown also said investigators are reviewing video surveillance tapes from a nearby convenience store for clues in the brutal killing. A preliminary autopsy found she died of “multiple sharp force injuries,” and a veteran local prosecutor described the crime scene as “the most horrific” he’s ever witnessed.

Law enforcement officials have been tightlipped about details of the crime or a possible motive, but held a meeting with pastors in Anadarko warning them to take security precautions at their buildings. Authorities said they have not ruled out the possibility that the killer specifically targeted a pastor or a church.

Brown said that on the video, Daniels’ car can be seen pulling up to the church about 10 a.m. Sunday. She declined to say whether any suspect was seen.

“The most they’ve gleaned from the tape so far is to give them a timeline of when she arrived,” Brown said.

Meeting with clergy
A visitor who arrived at the church shortly before noon saw Daniels’ car but found the door to the church locked, District Attorney Bret Burns said Thursday. The person walked to the nearby Anadarko police station and notified officers, who discovered Daniels’ body. Burns did not identify the visitor.

Burns, who met with local pastors Wednesday, did not say why the meeting was held just with them rather than the community at large, or what kind of a threat the clergy might face.

No arrests have been made and investigators have no suspects, Brown said. The agency is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

“We’re still running down leads, conducting interviews and doing all the things we do in a normal investigation,” Brown said.

Daniels, who lived in Oklahoma City, made the 60-mile drive to Anadarko every week, even though the small, weather-beaten church had no regular congregation.

Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University in Boston, said the fact that Daniels’ body was staged is highly unusual and generally indicates that a killer is seeking attention.

“The killer wants the notoriety,” Levin said. “He knows that by staging the victim’s body, that it will freak out a population of people, terrify them.”

Levin, who has written several books on serial killings, murder and hate crimes, also said posing bodies is a ritualistic “signature” that can be used to connect several crimes to a single perpetrator.

“The killer poses the bodies because he wants credit,” Levin said. “He intends to do it again and wants credit for what he’s done.”