DA criticizes OSBI over Carol Daniels inquiry

| December 5, 2009

ANADARKO — Concerns are mounting over the investigation into the death of pastor Carol Daniels.

Caddo County District Attorney Bret Burns and Charles Etta Dunlap — the pastor’s mother — spoke publicly for the first time last week about the direction of the case. The overriding theme is one of deep concern.

No arrest has been made, and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said there is no primary suspect and leads have all but dried up.

"I’m concerned about the progress of the investigation,” Burns said. "We have all placed our trust in the OSBI to catch the killer or killers.”

Burns added one other thought — one that Caddo County residents have often shared while reflecting on the grisly Aug. 23 slaying. "I live here,” said Burns, an Anadarko native who lives in nearby Amber. "This is my community.”

Dunlap said she is baffled by OSBI’s silence.

"I’m concerned with the progress of the investigation because I haven’t heard anything,” she said. "They (OSBI agents) talked to us in the beginning, but we haven’t heard from anyone since then. Yes, I’m concerned. They seem to be solving all these other cases.”

The Oklahoman’s request to interview OSBI Director A. DeWade Langley was denied by Brown, who said it is her job to speak to the media. She defended her agency’s handling of the case.

"The media has stymied the investigation by releasing all the information it has,” Brown said. "It’s hard for us to bring someone in for questioning. The answers to the questions are all out there.”

Police found Daniels’ mutilated and nude body in what appeared to be a "crucifix position” behind the altar of her tiny Christ Holy Sanctified Church. The initial autopsy report, which OSBI officials fought to withhold, was released through an Open Records request, revealing the pastor’s hair had been set on fire and her head nearly cut off.

Daniels, 61, drove to Anadarko from her Oklahoma City home to preach to whoever walked into her empty church. The pastor drove to Anadarko every Sunday, even when the weather was bad.

"I think all options should be on the table,” said Burns, referring to the investigation’s resources. "I’ve offered OSBI anything they need. They have my full support.”

Burns said he offered the services of his own investigator, Lewis Garrison. To date, Burns said, Garrison has been called on by OSBI to handle only a few investigative tasks.

OSBI agents are historically swamped with cases. An average workload for agents is "between 15 and 17 cases,” noted Brown, who said no agent has the luxury of working solely on one case. She then clarified the issue of whether state agents have enough resources in this case.

"They (OSBI agents) will ask if they need more resources, and if they ask, they know they will get more,” she said. "This is not an agent problem as to why this case hasn’t been solved. We have the resources. What we don’t have are the leads.”

Last month, a multi-agency task force was created in Le Flore County to investigate two unsolved cases — the homicide of Poteau bar owner Joe Neff and the suspicious death of Jody Rilee Wilson. The task force includes investigators from OSBI, the FBI, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Le Flore County Sheriff’s Department and the Le Flore County District Attorney’s office.

Asked whether a task force might be needed in the Anadarko case, Brown said, "A task force means nothing without leads.”

She compared the Anadarko case to the June 8, 2008, killings of Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, in Weleetka — another high-profile OSBI case that remains unsolved. In Weleetka, OSBI staged several news conferences on the steps of the Okfuskee County Courthouse and even set up a command post.

None of those steps were taken in Anadarko.

"In the Weleetka case, we had hundreds of leads come in,” Brown said. "We didn’t have anything like that in this (Anadarko) case, not even a tenth of the amount of leads.”

The OSBI’s most notable progress appears to be the clearing of potential suspects. A number of people have been cleared by alibis, Brown said.

"At first they (OSBI agents) said they had three people they were suspicious of, but I guess nothing ever came of that,” Dunlap said. "We just hope they can catch whoever did this because they’re still out there.”

As for updates for Dunlap from OSBI, Brown said, "We don’t have anything to tell her. If she wants to call us, she has our number, and she’s welcome to call. We just don’t have anything to tell the family, certainly nothing that will bring them peace. … I wish that weren’t the case.”



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