ANADARKO, Okla. – The scene inside a small Pentecostal church where a pastor was killed was "horrific," an Oklahoma district attorney said Tuesday, calling it the most brutal he has seen in nearly 20 years as a prosecutor.
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. A preliminary autopsy deemed Daniels' death a homicide caused by "multiple sharp force injuries," said Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the state Medical Examiner's office. She declined to discuss further details.
"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 wondered what motivated the crime and who was responsible. Burns has called for a meeting of local pastors on Wednesday.
State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown also would not say anything about the time of Daniels' death, a possible motive or what evidence was collected at the scene.
Authorities do not have any suspects, she said, and were offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
"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. Ezra Randle, Oklahoma overseer for the Christ Holy Sanctified Church, said Daniels had been traveling to Anadarko for four or five years and 85 percent of the time, she made the trip alone.
"I tried to ask her why she kept doing it and she would say until God releases me, I will go down there," said Randle, pastor of Grace Temple Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Elk City.
Icey Simmons, 85, a resident of the Silver Crest Nursing Center, said she would see Daniels nearly every weekend when Simmons would go to the church for Sunday service or when Daniels would drop by.
"She and I would just go down there and pray by ourselves," she said. "I can't believe it.
"She was just as sweet as she could be, never did anything to hurt nobody."
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."