Case Files: Kevin Sweat, Taylor Paschal-Placker, Skyla Whitaker

Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, June 8, 2008

A county road just yards from Taylor's home northeast of Weleetka in Okfuskee County after a weekend slumber party at Taylor’s house, the two girls walked. They were BFFs — nails painted blue and green — their bodies covered in hand-scribbled tattoos drawn on each other with markers. (Taylor’s autopsy notes that “Skyla” was scrawled across her stomach.) They were in a combined 5th and 6th grade class at Graham Public School.

As they walked, they were shot multiple times in the head and chest with two different guns and left on the side of the road in a ditch. The case went cold quickly.


Kevin Sweat and Ashley Taylor, 2011

Ashley met Kevin Sweat when the two were students at Wilson High School in Okmulgee County, but they didn’t begin dating until a few years later. Ashley was about 18 and had dropped out of school; Kevin was working at a McDonald’s in Henryetta.

In court records, a friend of Ashley’s recalls the two girls hanging out one day, playing with a Ouija board and “asking the spirit they contacted to ‘go fly over to Kevin and tell him to call us.’ ”

Kevin called 15 minutes later, the friend said, and eventually told Ashley that he had liked her for some time. The two began dating. They hung out together and “smoked weed,” according to the report.

Court records document his writings and drawings with satanic themes, and his fascination with violence and serial killers. He reportedly joked to his co-workers at McDonald’s about shooting people and blowing them up. He posed for pictures in Charles Manson T-shirts and spoke to a court-appointed psychiatrist about the Green River Killer.

He and Ashley both loved the movie “Natural Born Killers,” more because they fantasized about the nomadic lifestyle than the actual killings, their friend told investigators. (This movie again... same as the eldest Bever brother...)

“She and Kevin talked about getting married on the bridge just like the movie ‘Natural Born Killers.’ Kevin bought Ashley and himself matching rings just like the movie.”

Sweat wrote a cryptic blog post in 2008 saying he had a “secret for everyone.” His blog posts reveal, in words and images, a troubled Naval veteran whose brother committed suicide in 2007 and who seemed obsessed with guns, knives and violence.

Kevin and Ashley got engaged in 2009, but they didn’t tell her father or stepmother about it until shortly before they planned to head to Louisiana in July 2011.

Then in May 2010, he wrote that his recent engagement to Taylor was the biggest mistake of his life.

Ashley Taylor In July 2011, When Ashley didn’t call her mother after two weeks, her family panicked. Their days changed dramatically: Go by their apartment in Okmulgee. Check the Subway shop where Kevin works. Turned out, he hadn’t missed a day. He’d never gone to New Orleans. In Sweat’s online diary under the alias “Josepi Morgan” he made it clear he had no plans to get married that summer: “I have about 3 months to get my stuff payed off and get what I need and leave Oklahoma once and for all. It ain’t easy …” He used facetious quotation marks around mentions of his fiancee and talked about his other crushes. A high school classmate of Sweat’s told investigators that about six months before Ashley went missing, he ran into Sweat at Subway, who began to tell him “all kinds of personal things.” The classmate thought this was odd because they hadn’t seen each other since high school and “he just went in to get a sandwich,” the report states. Sweat told the former classmate that “he was wanting to get out of town” and was selling things, including guns, so he would have the money to leave. Sweat “said he wanted to get away from his girlfriend. He felt trapped. He tried to break it off with her before and she wouldn’t let go.” Ashley's family soon found pictures of Sweat holding knives and guns. In one photo, he was covered in blood. Investigators later uncovered a burn pile on Kevin’s father’s property, where they found some of Ashley’s bone fragments, pieces of her eyeglasses and sandals, and a gold ring. Officers found something else there that they’d been looking for since 2008: casings of bullets like the kind used to kill Skyla and Taylor. Ballistics tests matched the bullets to the same gun used to kill the girls.

According to the OSBI, Sweat said Ashley had threatened to tell people Sweat killed “those girls” if he broke up with her. He reportedly confessed to killing Ashley on an OSBI interrogation video that would have been shown at trial — it was originally sealed at pre-trial hearings and has never been viewed by the public. Prosecutors had planned to exhibit that video at trial, along with one where Sweat says he shot at “two monsters” while driving in the country. They also listed as exhibits jailhouse recordings of conversations Sweat had with family members. Over the years, Sweat had grown sloppier covering up his crimes. In a strange twist, during the years after the Weleetka girls were killed, he worked with Taylor’s older sister, Linda, at a Subway shop in Henryetta. Investigators said Sweat falsely claimed it was she who told him a detail of the crime that was never made public.

He knew exactly how the girls’ bodies were found, authorities said, because he was there. Skyla was trying to run, and Taylor was trying to protect her.

The 3 1/2-year case into the Weleetka killings has included thousands of forensic tests and hundreds of pieces of evidence. The case included about a dozen law enforcement agencies and went in and out of state.

Authorities had no information linking Sweat to the Weleetka slayings before Taylor's death. A $5,000 reward had been offered in an effort to find the gun, a Glock .40 caliber pistol with a serial number of EKG463US.

OSBI agents interviewed Sweat on Sept. 13 while he was being held in Taylor's slaying, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday with the charges. He told agents that he was driving on a rural Okfuskee County road in June 2008 when he pulled over, got out of his car and was approached by "two monsters," according to the affidavit. Sweat said he "panicked," grabbed a .40-caliber handgun from between the seats of his car and "shot the monsters." He then grabbed a .22-caliber gun from the glove box and "shot the monsters" again before getting back in his car and driving away, agents said. Joe Mosher, Taylor’s uncle, tells PEOPLE magazine that he believes Sweat made the remark about “monsters” to set the stage for a possible insanity defense down the road, although it is not known if Sweat suffers from any significant mental disorder.

Mosher says the new charges connecting Sweat with the 2008 shootings have brought a mixture of relief and anger for the families, who have struggled for more than three years to understand who would have gunned down the defenseless girls as they strolled along a peaceful dirt road near Taylor’s home.

“When they notified me he was in jail, all I wanted was to go in jail with him,” Mosher says, implying that he wanted to take justice into his own hands. His family, however, told him to instead let justice run its course.

Sweat was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill in the Weleetka deaths. District Attorney Max Cook said prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the Weleetka case as well as the slaying of Sweat's former girlfriend. Sweat eventually plead guilty to killing his 23-year-old fiancee.

He also confessed to shooting 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker and 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker in 2008.

Sweat apparently had a change of heart leading up to the sentencing. He called a Fox 25 reporter and said he planned to withdraw his plea, because he'd wanted to meet with FBI agents but didn't think they were taking him seriously, the station reported. He claimed he was just waiting for his lawyers to file the paperwork. The attorneys met Sweat on Friday in a small conference room inside the courthouse to wrap up the final details before sentencing. He was handcuffed and under heavy guard when he arrived, but his law enforcement escorts unlocked the cuffs once he was inside the room, which isn't uncommon, District Attorney Max Cook told reporters. The lawyers tried to have a quick meeting alone, and Sweat pounced, Cook said. "He attacked one of his lawyers and inflicted slight injuries around the neck area," the prosecutor said. He had apparently smuggled the blade into the Okfuskee County Courthouse and attacked one of his two attorneys, opening a small cut on the man's neck, the county district attorney said at a news conference .The skirmish only delayed the inevitable for Sweat, who was strip-searched after the ambush and hauled in front of Judge Lawrence Parish. The judge rejected Sweat's request to withdraw his plea and sentenced him to three life sentences for the murders of Taylor, Skyla, and Ashley without possibility for parole. A plea agreement had been made with Sweat: 3 guilty pleas in order to remove the death penalty from the table. The bespectacled killer, wearing a fresh bandage on his nose, stood alongside his remaining lawyer before deputies led him away. The family and friends of his victims welcomed the sentence but said it wouldn't change what he'd done. "No matter what, my daughter's still gone," Michael Taylor, father of Ashley Taylor, said. "The pain is always going to be there, and that's something you can't take away." SOURCES:







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