It is a small town mystery that has gripped the state — a dedicated pastor’s mutilated body found in the sanctuary of her church.
In 2009, the Christ Holy Sanctified Church, an old building in Anadarko, seemed like the perfect place for Reverend Carol Daniels to minister to lost souls.
The church no longer had a congregation, and yet Reverend Daniels still made the 60-mile drive from her home in Oklahoma City, every Sunday, eager to serve, and hopefully save..
“She was a very sweet lady,” said Retired Bishop Silkey Wilson Jr. He and his wife were the first to arrive at the church on August 23, 2009.
“We banged on the door,” Wilson explained.
The couple had noticed Daniels’ car parked in front of the church — and it had been for a couple of hours.
“I tapped on the door with my cane,” Wlison recalled the events, "We couldn’t get no attention, nobody would come to the door."
After discovering that something wasn’t quite right, the parishioners did not have far to go to report their concerns to law enforcement.
The Anadarko Police Department was just down the street, only a block away.
Officer Ashley Burrus arrived to the church and looked in through an open side door. Horrified by the discovery, Burrus immediately called for backup
“The inflection in his voice, I could tell that he needed another officer down there pretty quickly… so, I knew something was wrong,” said Detective James Howard.
He rushed to the church, and to this day, is haunted by the sight of Pastor Carol Daniels’ brutalized body behind the pulpit.
“In your mind, you think, how could anybody do this to another person much less someone who is down there serving God,” said Howard.
According to the autopsy report, Daniels had been stabbed multiple times, her head nearly severed, her hair set on fire.
The killers didn’t stop there. Investigators say her body was also stripped nude, doused with a cleaning solution, and in the opinion of some — posed as if on a crucifix
“There’s several theories involved,” explained Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks.
Hicks says investigators considered several motives through the years, eventually, calling it a foiled robbery — where the suspects, likely looking for drug money, took something more valuable — forensic evidence.
Investigators have never recovered her clothing. The murder weapon also disappeared without a trace
“We’ve struggled in trying to find suspects, in trying to find evidence,” explained Hicks.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency in the case, tried to pull fingerprints or uncover even a shred of DNA evidence... in vain.
Investigators say newly-released surveillance video shows something ‘suspicious’. The security cameras at a nearby convenience store captured a blurry white figure leaving the vicinity of the church — at the time of the crime.
The low-quality video prevented investigators from making any further identification; however, several potential witnesses were captured by the cameras.
“There were a lot of people out at that time…logic says somebody saw something,” Hicks said.
In time, people started to talk. Just not to authorities.
“You would hear the scuttlebutt around town, that we know who did this, and we know it was ‘these’ two people,”
D.A. Hicks says the two in question were violent drug dealers. People were afraid to come forward.
Finally, in 2015, a woman offered a potential break in the case.
“She actually witnessed the suspect with a black blouse and a knife that had blood on it…and it was around the time of Pastor Daniel’s murder,” Hicks says the woman led them to a shed located behind a home in Anadarko,
“She also advised that those items were taken into the she and burned,” said Hicks.
But not only did a search come up empty, he says, that woman, their only witness, passed away days later.
“It seems like every time we take a step forward, we are taking two steps back,” Hicks said.
The OSBI polygraphed several witnesses and the suspects, themselves.
Neither offered a confession.
In 2017, at the request of D.A. Hicks, the multi-county grand jury took up the case.
But then another setback. The main suspect, Denise ‘Darnell’ Cooper, died of cancer, before grand jurors could hear her testimony.
“I knew what it meant. We wouldn’t get an indictment. Most likely, we would have to find another avenue to prosecute suspect number two,” he explained.
Other possible witnesses were called, including then-prisoner Kevin Mahan.
But he, like others before him, seemed to thumb his nose at law enforcement and offered nothing of value, leaving Hicks, and all those who loved Carol Daniels, still searching for justice.
We asked the D.A. if he thinks this cold case will be solved, Hicks said, “I look at it this way…it is solved. My question is will we ever be able to bring it to justice…and I’m not going to stop trying,” Hicks said the D.A.’s task force investigators are still working the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call the OSBI tipline : 1-800-522-8017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org