Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UNSOLVED: The Skyla Whitaker and Taylor Paschal-Placker Murders

Killers Walking Free
By Robert A. Waters

The numbers are staggering.

According to a recent article in the Albany Times Union, 30,000 murder cases in New York are unsolved. Author Bryan Fitzgerald writes that these make up ten percent of all unsolved cases in the United States.

Capitol Weekly reports that half of all California murders, more than 1,000 per year, go unsolved.

Despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies and new sci-fyish technological advances, 300,000 killers in America are walking free.

The effects of an unsolved murder can be debilitating to family members, friends, and even communities.

A case in point: Skyla Whitaker, 11, and her friend Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, were gunned down nearly two years ago as they walked along a rural Oklahoma road.

On June 8, 2008, a 911 call came in to the Okfuskee County (Oklahoma) Sheriff’s Department. “Somebody’s killed two girls,” the caller, Taylor’s grandmother, screamed. “They went for a walk and they’re both dead.” Lying in a ditch alongside County Road 5425 were the bloody bullet-riddled bodies of the two lifelong friends.

So began a mystery that lasts to this day. Why would one or more killers shoot two ordinary children who were out for a walk?

Skyla had been shot eight times: two bullets ripped into her right arm; one round shattered her left arm and another her left shoulder; two slugs entered her chest, one her abdomen, and one her neck. The wound to Skyla’s left shoulder did the most damage. According to the autopsy report, it perforated “through the left third intercostal space, upper lobe of the left lung, esophagus, superior vena cava, right pulmonary artery, middle lobe of right lung, right fourth intercostals space, and fifth rib to the right breast.”

Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker’s autopsy reported that she had five separate bullet wounds to the face, hand, and groin. Several were kill-shots.

Investigators stated that one of the weapons used to kill the girls was a .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun. However, they refused to release information about the second gun. It was said that each victim sustained bullet wounds from both guns.

Neither child lived a high-risk life-style. They were popular with their classmates and teachers. Skyla wanted to be a veterinarian. She had several pet cats and a goat that followed her everywhere. Taylor, who had been home-schooled for several years, was described as “the smartest girl in school.” She wanted to be a forensic scientist.

The murders devastated both families. William Whitaker, Skyla’s father, said, “They were both really great kids. They were both active in their schools [and] they were both really smart. This is a horrible thing to happen to them...It’s [been] a day-to-day thing getting through the last year.”

Taylor’s grandfather, Peter Placker, said, "I want this to come to an end more than anybody else does. I mean I can't find a reason anymore to smile...I know no other way to explain it but pure hell. That girl meant everything to me. The past year I spent most of the time by myself. I am afraid to show affection to my other family members because I am scared somebody else is gonna be next...The [murderer is] still out there. If they are crazy enough to do it once they are going to do it again."

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the case. Investigators have several clues including tire tracks, shoe tracks, shell casings, and bullets. And they released the sketch of a “Native American with a long ponytail” who was allegedly at the scene near the time of the shooting. Due to the remoteness of the area, it is thought that the killers are local. The place would be difficult for a stranger to find. But after nearly two years, the investigation seems to be floundering. OSBI is beginning to feel pressure from the media and some frustrated family members.

Who murdered the two girls, and why? One of the first theories proposed was that Skyla and Taylor stumbled onto a meth lab and were murdered so they wouldn’t tell. But it seems preposterous that a meth lab would be placed on a road used by hundreds of residents of the community.

Another theory is that the girls knew their killers. They may have witnessed some kind of criminal activity and were eliminated.

My guess, for what it’s worth, is that there were two killers and they shot the girls for entertainment. Target practice, maybe. Like the DC sniper. Or the Ohio sniper. Or the Arizona sniper.

Whoever it is and whatever the motive, they need to be captured and given the ultimate punishment. The souls of two innocent children demand justice.


Unknown said...

I don't know why, but I've always had the same theory as you, sir. These girls were killed by two idiots who had nothing better to do. Possibly teenagers who thought it would be "cool" to shoot two other human beings. I have a feeling the girls knew them too. I am not claiming psychic powers here -- just going with my first thoughts after I read about these heartbreaking murders.

Anonymous said...

This crime has been deeply disturbing to me since I first heard it 2 years ago. I live over 600 miles away and I could not have been more affected if it had occur next door. I think your theory may sadly be right. A month after the murder, someone vandalized one of the girls cross that had been placed at the scene of the murder. He or they wrote, "you'll never catch me." The kind of taunt you would expect from someone capable of killing two innocent girls just for fun.

gunther84 said...

Yeah, the murder of these two young girls bothers me still. I wish there could be some break in the case. I agree with the two previous posters...I think these girls were killed for nothing more than kicks...someone got a thrill out of killer, and they stumbled upon these two girls at the wrong time. What a shame. My heart goes out to the family... I wish there was something I could do to help, or support these people who must be still in a state of shock. My prayers go out to you and I hope you are comforted with justice soon..but know this, even if these murderous bastards are never known to us, our maker knows who that are, and ultimate justice is to befall them....karma will get them, both here and in the afterlife....they will pay for this crime.

Mack said...

Skyla was my niece's step sister. She was supposed to be visiting that weekend and came a day late for the sleepover. Had it not been for that, she would have been with them when they were killed. To realize how close my only niece came to that death is enough to bring terror to your mind. My niece was with her daddy James when they found the two girls. She witnessed their bloody bodies and has been forever marked with that sight. I hope they find the killers and put them to death. They have marked a blood stain on the lives of the family and deserve no mercy.

Doc said...

This crime has haunted me ever since I saw it on Nancy Grace. I wish she or some of the other shows would revisit this case. It is one of the most sickening crimes. It needs to be kept in the public eye so the sorry slime who did this is caught.
2 different guns means either 2 killers with 1 gun each; or -- or 1 killer with 2 guns.
If it is 1 killer with 2 guns, a rare but not unheard of occurrence, then it is more likely to be a thrill killing.
2 killers with one gun each does not rule out a thrill kill, but fits more with the theory that the 2 girls stumbled onto something.
I agree that the remoteness makes it virtually certain that the killer(s) knew of the area in advance, either by being local or related/connected to someone local.
Good lukc to OSBI, I hope they catch them

Unknown said...

Horrific crime

Unknown said...

This is one of the worst crimes I have ever herd of. I'm a farmer in Washington St. And although 1940 miles away, I can't help but try to solve the murders. These families NEED closure to this case.
First of all, if I did a crime like this, I would know the cops have my tire tracks, so I would get a set of new ones. I hope the sheriff department had a 50 mile dragnet to check who purchased new tires within the next couple of days. They have the tire size so this should be very possible. Next u run all suspects through the firearm registration database to see if any of them own pistols of the matching caliber. Then go through process of elimination.
Whoever did this has to have a black cloud around them as their personality. Nobody can live with that crime on their head, and not be bitter and full of hate. Probe the suspects into admission.

Unknown said...

My best guess scenario is a couple of young men high on meth out joy riding, looking for fun, drove by the two girls on that road. The two men start egging each other on, daring each other to shoot the girls. If they were high on meth or something, their memories may be hazy of the event. But, hopefully, sooner or later, one will confess it to someone in a weak moment, and the mystery will be solved. It may take decades, but I think one of them will have loose lips and confess.

Mar said...

It has been almost 3 years since this horrific crime occurred, and I still find myself searching for it online to see if there have been any updates. I have always had a similar feeling as Cari. From the first time I heard this on the news all I could think of was 2 young men had snuck out guns to shoot in the woods and these young girls came across them, possibly threatening to turn them in, and they were shot simply so they couldn't "tattle" on the boys. I cannot even fathom how the family feels having no closure after all this time. I do have faith that one day justice will be served. My heart goes out to everyone involved.

Unknown said...

Skyla looks a lot like my daughter so this murder has always haunted me.
I search every couple of month to see if they have caught the monsters that did this.
I hope that they catch the killer or killers soon.
My heart and prayers go out to the girls families.

lnyk said...

This story just breaks your heart. Two little girls slaughtered,by thrill-killers. I agree that the killer's had to be someone from that area. Who else would fire those many rounds,without fear of being heard? These creeps are just going on with their lives and living off their deadly kill,but NOT for long,you'll be found out!!! I pray it will be soon!

summer said...

I had a great time being a cheerleader with these two amazing girls and playing basketball with them. These girls always mad your bad day great they could always put a smile on your face. Girls we love and miss you so much. There is not a day that goes by that we don't think about the good times withyall. Love and miss you so much.

BearKeeper said...

For some reason, this particular crime is so very haunting. Maybe it is because when I was the same age as these girls were when they were murdered, we pretty much lived without the fear of things like this happening. I check from time to time to see if a clue has been found as to who did this. I see these two young faces...they will never know the excitement of a first date or what it's like to be excited about graduating. It is so very, very sad that something like this could happen in a quiet, rural place.

CBowers said...

There is an Oklahoma man who was just arrested for murdering his girlfriend. They have found a burned body in a firepit on his father's property. The property is on the same road where these two girls were found shot. Perhaps this will inspire them to reinvestigate the case.

Katz said...

Just saw this case in the reward for one of the guns and tried to look up more info on what had happened. This case is beyond horrendous and I don't know how their families have been able to cope. I hope they catch the person[s] and they rot in hell after lethal injections. CBowers: what was the name of the suspect in girlfriends killing? Am trying to look that up to see if they have come up with any more tie ins [which would make sense as now they are looking for a gun out of the blue years later]

jnicewan said...

Katz, The guys name you are looking for is Keith Sweat, he killed his girlfriend Ashley Taylor. They think he might be related to these murders and perhaps tied to a gun possibly used in this crime. They are looking for a Glock model 22 .40cal with a serial number of EKG463 Investigators beleive this gun may have been sold at a Tulsa gun show this past March. The current owner though unknown is not considered a suspect.

B4byg1rl said...

To everyone I want to say thank you all for the prays.. Taylor I love and miss you so much babygirl. Sissy you will always be in my heart and one day we will be together again. Love always you big sister kaye