WELEETKA, Okla. (AP) — The bodies of two girls were found shot to death in rural Oklahoma along a dirt road the best friends walked dozens of times to play and go to sleepovers.
By Tuesday, investigators had no suspects and were unsure of the motive for Sunday's killings of 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker and 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker.
Taylor's grandfather found their bodies after his wife got no answer when she called Taylor's cellular phone. The girls were sleeping over at Taylor's house and had decided to take a walk down the desolate road Sunday afternoon.
Investigators suspect a local person was involved because the killings occurred in such an isolated area, Rosser said. Possibilities include that it was a random shooting, the girls had intended to meet someone or they may have interrupted a crime that was occurring, he said.
Skyla's family said she walked barefoot almost everywhere and rode her bicycle down endless dirt roads. Where she went, her many cats followed, along with her pet goat. Skyla wanted to become a veterinarian, said her grandmother, Claudia Farrow.
Taylor rescued helpless turtles crawling in the middle of the road and wanted to become a forensic scientist like the ones on TV shows, said Placker, who raised the girl.
"She was the best kid I've known," he said.
The murders particularly have shaken a community where some drivers leave their keys in their cars and people who live 10 miles apart call themselves neighbors.
"I can't put it into words," said Jake Fenley, Skyla's basketball coach. "This doesn't happen in rural middle America."
On Tuesday morning, Taylor's uncle, Joe Mosher, drove up to the makeshift memorial at the place the bodies were found. Yellow crime scene tape had been torn away and thick patches of grass were matted down.
A rosary hung from a branch, and stuffed animals and a bouquet of flowers just beginning to wilt formed the grim reminder of innocence lost.
"It's the most tragic thing that I've ever seen," said Nell Mosher, Taylor's aunt. "They were just two precious little babies; they were good girls."
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press