The haunting murder of Reverend Carol Daniels
No one likes to admit they are interested in murder. I was, for years, uncomfortable as hell with the fact that I liked to read true crime books. But eventually I realized that it’s just human to be intrigued with the worst we can do with one another. After all, in a sense, I’d inherited my interest in true crime accounts from my mother, who is a gentle, kind person and loving mom.
It is human to find yourself fascinated – and frequently, haunted – with the most inhuman behaviors.
The horrific death of Anadarko, OK pastor Carol Daniels may be one of the most haunting crimes I’ve encountered in recent years. Rev. Daniels’s murder is rendered all the more awful by details of the crime only recently released to the Oklahoma press. Somehow, the monstrousness of what happened to this committed, 61-year-old woman of God is emphasized by evidence that a cool, precise hand was behind the dramatic staging of the crime. From NewsOK.com:
Sources confirmed that Daniels’ bloodied corpse appeared to have been left in the form of a cross with both arms outstretched to the sides. Sources also said investigators were disturbed by two other facts at the crime scene:
• The killer took Daniels’ clothes, perhaps to hide evidence or as a grisly trophy.
• The killer methodically took time to spray a dissolving chemical around the body in an apparent effort to destroy any DNA evidence.
Rev. Daniels was found just after noon on August 23, 2009. She came to Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko each Sunday. Even though there was no resident congregation, Carol Daniels persisted with her mission – if someone did chance to come, she would be there to pray with them.
An autopsy revealed that Carol Daniels fought with her final Sunday visitor, but in the end she died from multiple slashing wounds. She was, in fact, almost decapitated. In addition to the other odd details outlined by NewsOK.com, Carol Daniels’s hair was burned.
The Oklahoman interviewed experienced profiler Brent Turvey about the crime. Turvey sounded a cautionary note about suspecting some kind of serial killer might be at work:
“It’s either one of two things,” Turvey explained. “It could have been deliberate. They’re in a church; they put her in this position, perhaps a defiant way of saying, ‘Screw you and your God. Look how your God didn’t help you.’
“Or it was not at all deliberate, and her body just fell that way. It’s highly common to find a nude body lying on the ground with their arms outstretched like a cross. In fact, it happens all the time [...]“
While it is refreshing and rather rare for a behavioral analyst like Turvey to approach the question of the motivation behind this sort of bizarre murder with something like common sense (another profiler might try to talk up the serial angle, perhaps to keep their own name in the news – happens all the time with behavioral analysts who aren’t attached to the feds – and occasionally with some who are), there is still this - less than a week after Rev. Daniels was murdered, Oklahoma law enforcement warned other pastors to be on the lookout.
Brent Turvey’s thoughts about this strange and gruesome crime are a welcome dose of common sense from a practitioner of an art that can produce a lot of ridiculous, nonsensical bullshit, but the authorities tasked with actually investigating what happened to Rev. Daniels on her last Sunday saw fit to caution other men and women of God that they should, after all, look over their shoulders for a while. I imagine that after that meeting, the pastors went home and did something no one needed to prompt them to do: pray.