Rape, girl's slaying throw small Oklahoma town into shock

Monday, August 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Flowers, stuffed animals and notes from people lay Monday outside an abandoned home as residents tried to come to grips with the murder of a 7-year-old girl there and the rape of her 12-year-old friend.

Meanwhile, a local 19-year-old remained jailed in the crimes.

Police said they found Robert Wayne Rotramel with the girls when the officers came upon him in the back bedroom of the home late Saturday.

"We're still in a state of shock," said Ralph Jones, police chief in this northeast Oklahoma town of about 1,000 residents.

"We want justice," said Wayne Wikel, a cousin of the 12-year-old girl who was raped. "He needs to be put away. He needs to do hard time."

"Everybody's real sad." said a female worker at Ballard's Grocery, who wouldn't give her name. "Bad things usually don't happen here."

The grocery was collecting food and money for the families of the two girls. Spirit Bank is taking donations to set up accounts for both of the families involved.

Police tape still was strung up around the house, across from a grocery store and next door to a bait shop owned by Rotramel's parents. Members of the youth group at Free Will Baptist Church wrote "We love you" and "We're praying for you."

Around the corner, two bicycles were in the yard of the home of the young girl who was killed. The girl's family was staying with relatives out of town.

The father of the girl who was raped said people in town had been very supportive.

The girls' parents reported them missing around 8:45 p.m.

Saturday. The town's four-person police force began a search, concentrating at first in the area where a back-to-school dance was being held.

At about 10:30 p.m., Jones called out the town's volunteer fire department for help. Nine firefighters and eight police officers began searching structures block by block in teams of two. They had been searching for more than two hours when a young officer saw the door of the abandoned home ajar and stepped inside.

Because of the ongoing investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Jones said he could not describe what the officer saw when he entered the bedroom.

But Rotramel, who was fully clothed and armed with a penknife, didn't put up a fight when the officer confronted him, Jones said.

The 7-year-old, Christi Blevins, was not breathing when she was found. Officers tried to resuscitate her, he said.

"We worked on her for 20 minutes," he said.

Blevins was pronounced dead after being transported to Drumright's hospital. OSBI spokeswoman Kym Koch said Monday that the medical examiner ruled that cause of death was asphyxiation because of bruising around the neck.

The 12-year-old had been raped. She was taken to a hospital where she was treated and released, Koch said.

Rotramel was moved to the Creek County Jail and formal charges could be filed Monday, Koch said.

Jones said he had known Rotramel for many years but declined to say if the man had had previous run-ins with the law as a juvenile.

"He has had no criminal history in my city since he turned 18," Jones said.

Neighbors said the two girls became best friends after the Blevins family moved to town a year ago. The girls were last seen Saturday evening playing outside their houses, officials said.

Koch said investigators have no indication the girls knew Rotramel.

Funeral services for Christi Blevins are scheduled for 10 a.m.

Wednesday at the Lake Area Free Will Baptist Church north of Mannford.