An official investigating the double murder of two young girls in Oklahoma said Tuesday the "shooter wanted these girls dead," as the relative who discovered their lifeless bodies remembered the children as inseparable best friends.
Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, were found shot to death in a ditch Sunday evening along a rural road in Weleetka, Okla., about 90 miles from Oklahoma City. Thus far, police have few clues as to who shot the girls and why.
"There's obviously an issue here where the shooter wanted these girls dead and certainly carried that to its fullest extent," Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Inspector Stan Florence told FOX News.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, state investigators backed away from earlier statements that they had a person of interest in the case.
"Person of interest is just a term," Special Agent Ben Rosser of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said. "We don't have a person of interest; we don't have a suspect."
An autopsy found the girls had died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and face, Chief Investigator Kevin Rowland of the Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner's office told FOXNews.com.
Peter Placker, Taylor's grandfather, found the girls dead about 300 yards north of their home on Sunday after the girls did not answer a cell phone they had with them, Rosser said. Placker immediately called police.
The girls were found clothed in their T-shirts and shorts. There was no apparent sign of molestation, though police are leaving that possibility open. "I don't believe it was, but you just can't discount that," Rosser said.
Taylor and Skyla had walked about a quarter-mile from Taylor's home to a bridge frequented by locals several miles from both Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 75.
Investigators said they do not know what type of gun was used to kill the girls. They have an idea of the bullet caliber, though they didn't release that information. They're also stymied by the possible motive.
"We have thought from the worst-case scenario — just a haphazard shooting — to they possibly walked down to meet someone, to possibly they walked down there, even though it's a short distance, they may have interrupted something," Rosser said. "So we're looking at everything right now."
Rosser said they believe someone from the community may have committed the crime.
"The reason we're just looking at possibly a local person: Because of the location there, it's just not likely somebody pulled off U.S. 75 or I-40 and just stopped there," he said.
On Tuesday, Placker remembered his daughter and her friend as inseparable.
"When they didn't have something to do with their parents, they spent all their time talking to each other or spent the night with each other," Placker told FOXNews.com.
Placker and his wife had custody of Taylor, who called them "mom" and "dad." He said Taylor was a straight-A student who quickly made friends when the family moved to Weleetka from Oklahoma City several years ago.
"Everybody down here loved her," Placker said.
For a year, Taylor had made the quarter-mile walk down the road to the bridge daily as exercise, Placker told FOXNews.com.
"She hardly ever does it at the same time every day," he said. "Sometimes she'll do it in the morning, sometimes she'll do it in the afternoon, sometimes she'll do it about an hour or two before dark."
The brutal crime has shaken this rural community. Okfuskee County Sheriff Jack Choate is telling parents to keep an eye on their kids.
"We don't know what the threat is, but if it were me, I wouldn't let my kids out walking unless there was other people around you know that you knew," he said. "Just natural security for your own kids."
A reward has grown to $14,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible, and the Bank of Commerce in Waleetka has set up accounts to help pay for the girls' burials. But it's little consolation for family members who have only just begun to grieve.
"She was my only baby," Placker said. "I've got four other [children], but that's my baby."