A sorrowful life

I can’t believe it’s been over 3 1/2 years since it happened.

It was a relatively low-key story that didn’t exactly rattle the national headlines like some other news items of comparable relevance or shock value, but the circumstances of the murders of the two young girls, Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whittaker, 11, shocked me personally when I first heard the story. On June 8, 2008, the girls who were very close friends, were hanging out at Taylor’s house in Weleetka, Oklahoma, about 100 miles east of Oklahoma City, when they decided to go for a walk about 5 pm. I’m not sure at what point Taylor’s grandfather thought they’d been gone a little too long and he tried calling the girl on her cellphone but she didn’t answer. After several failed attempts, he began retracing their route and eventually he found the 2 girls lying side by side in a ditch, both dead from multiple bullet wounds.

A manhunt ensued but the story slowly died and I never saw anything of it again. The pure random evil nature of the murders stuck in my mind. Every so often I thought of the incident and the excruciating torture the parents and grandparents undoubtedly endured, and still do, over the murder of these girls. Random evil is the worst because the lack of reason or understandable definition means we have no control over it. Especially when our children are involved. As an adult you do have a sense of control in your life, even if it’s delusional. So if we aren’t the victim of a crime, we get complacent and feel removed from evil but it waits hungrily at the door. It can strike randomly out of the blue. If we get robbed by a gangster, there is some explanation and control of this. We can always explain it away or rationalize it by saying that it was avoidable if…if. It’s the random crap that is frightening because you can live the most reclusive, sheltered existence, locking doors, staying in at night, staying away from the bad parts of town, but ultimately, random evil may very well find you, or your children.

This is why it is so frightening. We can’t grab a hold of it. And as a parent, your sense of control is greatly shattered as you become preoccupied with the well-being of your children. When I first heard this story, I did what most parents do upon hearing such news. They put themselves in the shoes of the victim’s parents. I imagined the frantic calls, the desperate seraching for the 2 children who weren’t where they should have been.

And the callous, random nature of the murders.

Friday, police charged 25-year-old Kevin Sweat with the girls’ murders. He claims he thought the girls were monsters who were after him, so he unloaded a Glock .40 handgun and then a .22 handgun he retrieved from his car, into the girls. I guess there is always a sense of relief when a mysterious killer is apprehended, but that will do little to erase the horror of him killing the girls far from home and far from help.

Sweat had been questioned because he owned a similar Glock used in the murder, but his alibi convinced investigators he had nothing to do with the case. Suspicions arose after he was arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend earlier this year. Further investigation has revealed that shell casings found on the land belong to Sweat’s father match those found at the murder scene. I believe that people, having killed their first victim, are unleashed. The murderer was created and arose after killing Taylor and Skyla three years ago.

This is a sorrowful life.