ANADARKO, Okla. – Investigators in southwest Oklahoma remain tightlipped about the death of a pastor whose body was found inside her church.
Trauma to 61-year-old Carol Daniels' body indicated foul play, said Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators completed a preliminary autopsy on Monday, but won't talk about the cause and time of death, a possible motive or what evidence was collected at the scene.
"Right now we have more questions than answers," said Brown. "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 to Anadarko every week to preach, though many times her car might be the only one parked outside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church. Although she had no regular congregation, she went there in case someone wanted to pray or hear a sermon.
Daniels came to Anadarko for the last time Sunday. Police performing a welfare check found her body around noon in her small, weather-beaten church, a block from the police station in this town of about 6,600 people.
Charlesetta Dunlap, Daniels' mother, said her daughter spent most of her time helping others and went to Anadarko consistently "with the expectation of someone wanting to seek the Lord."
"She felt that if she was there it gave them the opportunity," Dunlap said Monday.
Anadarko resident Kevin Cheadle, who attends St. Paul United Methodist Church, said Daniels sometimes visited that church and spoke. He said the last time she did so was in the spring, when she delivered a sermon on the Holy Spirit.
"She seemed to be a real nice person," Cheadle said. "She was real quiet, but she knew how to bring the Word and give a good message."
Mitchell Pendarvis, who lives next door to the church, said Daniels' car was usually the only vehicle there.
Pendarvis said the church, in an area dotted with vacant homes and businesses, sits near an alley where men sometimes congregate and drink.
"They sit back there, some of them sleep there," he said.
Dunlap said the church wasn't in the best area.
"Maybe that was why she had a mind to go there," she said. "She felt the Lord had her going."
Dunlap said she was concerned about her daughter going into the building by herself.
"You'd be concerned about anybody going into an area sometime," she said. "We didn't have any reason to really be fearful that we knew of, but being a mother, I was concerned."
Brown said detectives were seeking to talk to people who live near the church and conduct more extensive interviews with family and friends. Officials spoke Sunday with several people who gathered around the building after word about the slaying spread.
A makeshift memorial consisting of a teddy bear and flowers had been set up in front of the church by Monday afternoon.
Anadarko usually has two or three homicides a year, Brown said, with the most recent being about a month ago — a beating death in which a suspect was caught. About a half-mile from the church is an area that has a higher-than-normal crime rate, Brown said, with crimes involving drug activity.