Police Release Sketch of Possible Suspect in Shooting of Girls

June 14, 2008

Authorities released a sketch Friday of a “person of interest” in the shooting deaths of two Oklahoma schoolgirls.

Several witnesses reported seeing a suspicious man on the same dirt road where Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whitaker Taylor, 11, were shot Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said.

Jessica Brown said authorities believed that the man, “who didn’t look like he should have been there,” was on the road before the girls were shot multiple times in the head and chest and left in a ditch.

Witnesses described the man as an American Indian or possibly half-Caucasian with a black ponytail, about 6 feet tall and 35 years old. They said he was standing in front of a white single-cab pickup with chrome striping, possibly a Chevy or Ford model, with Oklahoma tags, Brown said in a press conference.

“He acted a little suspiciously but we don’t know what he was doing,” said Brown, stopping short of calling him a suspect. “We just want to talk to him. We think he might have seen something.”

Brown said other witnesses reported hearing gunshots near the crime scene, a dirt road that leads to a bridge known as a popular gathering spot in the rural community of Weleetka.

The isolated nature of the crime scene, located about three miles from the nearest major roadway, has prompted authorities to suggest the shootings were the work of someone in the community.

Brown said the information about the gunshots helped authorities establish a timeline in the case, but refused to elaborate.

Authorities have previously said Taylor’s grandfather called 911 around 5:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon to report finding the girls in a ditch about a quarter mile from his home.

He said the girls had left the house less than 30 minutes earlier. He said he looked for them after Taylor failed to answer her cell phone.

Preliminary autopsy examinations indicated both girls were shot with two different caliber weapons, leading authorities to surmise that more than one person was involved, though Brown said they were not committed to that theory.

State and local authorities have been working around the clock to develop leads in the case, which has startled the small community of Weleetka, about 75 miles outside of Tulsa.

Earlier Friday, members of the community mourned the two girls at separate funerals.

Earlier in the week, Ofuskee Sheriff Jack Choate urged parents to keep a close eye on their children while authorities pursued the likelihood that a killer or killers were in their midst.

Since then, authorities have held daily press conferences in an effort to solicit leads from the public with reward money that had reached $40,000 by Friday.
“Everyone knows money speaks,” Brown said at the press conference, commenting that her office had received tips from as far as California.

Originally found @ CNN.COM