http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,366464,00.html

Friday, June 13, 2008
By Sara Bonisteel

FNC

A sketch of a person of interest in the murder of two girls.
A sketch of a person of interest in the murder of two girls.



Investigators released a sketch Friday of a person of interest, possibly a witness, in the slaying of best friends shot to death along a country road. The development came on the same day their families laid the girls to rest.

Police are seeking a man who was seen in the area where Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were killed Sunday along a dirt road in Weleetka, Okla.

He is described as a 6-foot American Indian man, possibly having European heritage, about 35 years old, with long black hair pulled into a ponytail.
Click here for photos.

"We just want to talk to him," said Jessica Brown, the spokeswoman of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), at a press conference Friday. "We think he might have seen something that can help us resolve this case."

Brown called the man a "witness" and a "possible person of interest," and said someone saw him standing in front of a white Ford or Chevy single-cab pickup truck on County Line Road around the time of the girls' death.
"He was stopped on the road actually kind of blocking the way there, standing outside his pickup truck, doing something," she said. "And they couldn't really tell what he was doing, so they kept driving because it looked a little suspicious."

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The truck had a thin chrome stripe down the side and Oklahoma plates, she said.

"We don't know that he was doing anything, anything wrong there," Brown said, but she urged anyone who has seen him to call investigators.
Brown also said Friday that a handful of witnesses have come forward to say they heard gunshots, which helps investigators piece together a timeline for the murders.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people turned out for memorial services held Friday for the girls.

"These two precious little girls were innocent and they were young," Pastor Jim Paslay of the First Baptist Church in Henryetta, Okla., said at Skyla's memorial. "It hits especially home for me as a father of three girls to think that something like this could happen here in Oklahoma."

A slideshow of Skyla showed her brief life through photographs at the closed-casket service.

Investigators still do not have suspects or a motive for the shocking slayings in this town of 1,000 people.

"I tell people sometimes it seems like we're awful slow at our agency, but we try to be methodical and as thorough as we can be," OSBI Special Agent Ben Rosser said.

Police have interviewed a witness who drove by the girls minutes before they were killed just a few hundred yards from Taylor's home in Okfuskee County.

"We have been able to corroborate his story," OSBI Agent in Charge Dennis Franchini told FOX News on Friday. "For investigative purposes we're not releasing anything that he's told us at this point, other than he did make some observations."

Each girl was shot with bullets of different calibers, leading police to theorize there was more than one shooter, but that's still a theory, Rosser said. "We're still considering a possibility of one shooter," he said.

Brown said rumors that the crime has a possible link to drugs are just that, rumors. "You have to look into every lead, but we haven't confirmed anything yet," she said.

Rosser said his bureau and the Okfuskee County Sheriff's Office were looking into burglaries, carjackings, sexual assaults and complaints of shots fired in an effort to find a suspect.

"I just think that until we identify these guys and pick them up, I think anybody in that area should have some caution about their outdoor activities," he told FOX News.

The girls were found dead on Sunday near a bridge Taylor often walked to for exercise.

An autopsy found the girls died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and face, Chief Investigator Kevin Rowland of the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told FOXNews.com.

Rosser has not said how many times the girls were shot.

Taylor's grandfather, Peter Placker, found the girls clothed in T-shirts and shorts just 20 to 25 minutes after they had left Taylor's house. That short window is among the reasons investigators think the girls were not molested by their assailants, though lab work is pending.

In addition to the ballistics tests, police were examining shoe and tire prints, shell casings and any computer correspondence the girls may have made.

Police said the crime scene's isolation made it seem more likely that locals killed the girls, but Rosser said family members and friends are not suspects.

A reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers has grown more than $30,000, and investigators remained optimistic.

"I feel confident this is a solveable case," Brown said.