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Weleetka murders still haunt residents 10 years later

Kevin Sweat being led into the courthouse. (Clemmer/KTUL)

From high above, it looks like any other quiet country dirt road, but what happened here ten years ago still haunts people to this day.

"It's changed my life," said Judge Maxey Reilly. She was a prosecutor back when the mystery of finding the person responsible for the murders of two young girls, Taylor Paschal-Placker and Skyla Jade Whitaker, was finally solved.

"It was one of the largest investigations, if not the largest investigation, that the OSBI had ever seen," said Reilly.

RELATED | State Investigators Seek FBI Help In Weleetka Murders

Nine hundred leads, 650 interviews, and 800 pieces of evidence that ultimately led to one man, Kevin Sweat.

"The conclusion I've come to is just that sometimes there's evil in the world," said Faith Phillips, author of a new book which takes an in-depth look at the case, titled, Now I Lay Me Down.

"The title indicates that there was some innocence lost," she said.

Gunned down, Taylor and Skyla's bodies were discovered by their grandfather.

"His granddaughter...," read Phillips from her book, "...the girl he had raised as his own daughter since her birth, was lying cross ways in a ditch. Her head had fallen to the west with her body stretching across the depression in the ground, her feet pointed toward the east. Her best friend Skyla lay just above on the craggy embankment that rose slightly from the road...It was then that Mr. Placker walked back out to the middle of county line road, just downy he way from Bad Creek bridge. He faced in the direction of the place where he had raised and cared for his family of girls, and in his own words, Peter Plakcer began to scream his head off," she said.

"Why? Why would someone want to do this to children?" asked Reilly.

It was a question that would continue to baffle authorities even after Sweat was in custody.

"You know, motive was something that we struggled with for a long time," she said.

Drugs appeared to be the answer. With Kevin blaming the death of his brother from an overdose on narcotics he supposedly got from one of the girl's relatives.

"I believe that the autopsy report indicated that he had overdosed on drugs but Kevin felt like one of the Plackers, I believe it was Taylor's brother, had sold him drugs intentionally that killed him," said Reilly.

But even that is the motive it still leaves a colossal leap of depravity to arrive at the act which he ended up committing on that lonely dirt road.

"And I think when it really comes down to it, everybody's really searching for a motive but the answer is that it's senseless," said Phillips.

Ten years later, and the memorial is still there, weathered and eroded, like the trust of parents everywhere.

"Everybody was scared to let their kids go outside and play and I, I still think they are," said Reilly.

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