Prosecutor: Crime scene at Okla. church ‘horrific’

| August 25, 2009

ANADARKO, Okla. — The crime scene inside a small Pentecostal church where a pastor was slain was the most brutal he has seen in nearly 20 years as a prosecutor, the local district attorney said Tuesday.

Police have released scant information about the killing of 61-year-old Carol Daniels, whose body was found Sunday inside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church, a weather-beaten building on a rundown block near downtown Anadarko.

"I’ve prosecuted over 50 murders," District Attorney Bret Burns said. "This is the most horrific crime scene I’ve ever witnessed." He declined to elaborate, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation.

With little official word on the grisly killing, rumors in the town were swirling as people wonder what motivated the crime and who was responsible. Burns has called for a meeting of local pastors on Wednesday.

A preliminary autopsy on Daniels’ body was conducted on Monday, but Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown would not say anything about the cause or time of death, a possible motive or what evidence was collected at the scene.

She said that trauma to the body indicated foul play, but did not provide details about the nature of the trauma or what caused it.

Authorities do not have any suspects, she said.

"Right now we have more questions than answers," Brown said. "The few answers we do have, we want to hold on to. That might help us in the long run."

Daniels made the 60-mile trek from Oklahoma City every week to preach, even though the church had no regular congregation. Her mother, Charlesetta Dunlap, said Daniels spent most of her time helping others and went to Anadarko consistently "with the expectation of someone wanting to seek the Lord."

A neighbor, though, said her car was often the only one parked outside the church.

Pastor Steve Palczynsky of the Cedar Hill Church of God in Anadarko said lack of official word is disconcerting and that he’s taken extra steps to make sure his church is secure.

"The first thing I thought about, being human, was that maybe it was a serial killer and maybe he has something out for preachers, but the Lord takes care of us," he said.

Tracy Schumpert, pastor of the town’s First United Methodist Church, said members of the local clergy will meet Wednesday with Burns to discuss the case.

"It’s still very new, and we don’t know what to think," she said. "Anything that happens like that, it’s a community concern."

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Category: Church Security

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