Authorities plead for help in Weleetka case

Monday, July 21st 2008, 9:38 am
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

OKEMAH, Okla. -- Authorities pleaded for assistance Monday in solving the killings of two girls near Weleetka.

Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were gunned down June 7 on an isolated road near Taylor's home. Officers have run down more than 500 leads in the case, but have not determined a suspect or a motive, said Jessica Brown, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman.

"We know someone knows what happened," OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said. "This person, these people, need to be caught."

Brown played an emotional 911 tape Monday in hopes of generating more leads in the case.

The tape was of a 911 call made by the grandmother of one of the girls. The grandmother could be heard screaming that the girls were dead and telling a dispatcher the bodies were on County Line Road.

"We want the public to understand the horrific scene, the emotion that was going on at that time," Brown said. "Hopefully if they hear this tape they will understand what has happened and feel that they have to come forward."

Authorities initially declined to make the 911 call public at the request of family members, but Brown said investigators persuaded them to change their minds and 82 seconds of the 6-minute, 22-second recording were released.

Investigators have released a sketch of a tall, American Indian man whom witnesses described seeing near the murder scene around the time of the killings, but that man hasn't come forward for questioning.

Investigators have determined two different guns were used in the killing, which suggests there may have been two people involved in the shooting.

Authorities have said the reason behind the killings could have been anything from the girls happening upon a drug deal, a random thrill killing or an attempted abduction.

The FBI and the U.S. Marshal Service are now helping with the investigation, Brown said. A pool of 14 to 15 investigators from the OSBI, FBI, Marshal Service and the Okfuskee County sheriff's and district attorney office continue to work on the case, she said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provided a specially trained dog to comb the crime scene and the marshal service has contributed to a reward of more than $30,000 for anyone with information that could lead to an arrest and conviction.

Meanwhile, interviews and polygraph tests have eliminated 100 people as suspects, Brown said.