Police release no new information in Taft case

Kathy Taft

March 11, 2010 2:35:17 PM PST
Raleigh police called a news conference Thursday to talk about the murder of State Board of Education member Kathy Taft, but released no new information.

Chief Harry Dolan told reporters saying anything more could potentially harm his detective's investigation and admitted he was being "very guarded" with information. The department has been uncharacteristically tight lipped about the case - releasing one sentence press statements and asking a judge to seal search warrants and 911 call recordings.

Dolan said Thursday his detectives have made "considerable progress," but still couldn't tell the public whether they believe the attack was a random act. He thanked the neighborhood around the home where Taft was found for their support and said detectives were working around the clock.

Taft, 62, was found assaulted in the home of a friend at 2710 Cartier Drive Saturday. Dolan said detectives believed the attack happened either late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

ABC11 uncovers new information

Meanwhile, ABC11 Eyewitness News has learned new information about the case from its sources. A person with knowledge of what happened said Taft's sister called paramedics Saturday morning after realizing something was wrong.

She thought her sister was experiencing a complication from a medical procedure Taft had undergone the day before. However, when Taft arrived at WakeMed and was examined by the doctor who performed the procedure, the physician reportedly realized she had been assaulted.

Taft reportedly suffered trauma to her head. That's when police were notified.

She died from her injuries Tuesday, three days after arriving at the hospital.

At his news conference Thursday, Chief Dolan confirmed detectives are investigating an attempted burglary at a home near the Cartier Dr. residence where Taft was assaulted. He said investigators haven't determined if it was related.

ABC11 learned Wednesday that detectives were at that home on Wayland Dr., which is located a block from the Cartier Dr. home.

The residents of the home returned from an out-of-state trip Tuesday to find muddy footprints in the open basement. A chair had been moved from the front porch to the side of the house where a screen was cut. There were also other tell-tale signs of an attempted crime.

The residents reported the break-in to police at the Cartier Drive crime scene. Investigators then went to the house on Wayland where they collected a number of pieces of evidence.

Dolan said he's ordered extra patrols in the area and urged residents to make sure their homes are secured and call 911 straight away if they see anything suspicious.

Warrants, 911 calls sealed

Wednesday, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby got a judge to seal search warrants and recordings of two 911 calls in the Taft case. Willoughby said releasing the material to the media would potentially interfere with the investigation.

Click here to read Judge Donald Stephens' order (.pdf)

Media outlets challenged the sealing, but Judge Stephens refused to release the material at a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Reward offered

The Taft family is offering a $25,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of the crime. Anyone with information that might help police detectives is asked to call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.

Funeral arrangements made

Meanwhile, viewing and funeral arrangements for Taft have been made: Viewing Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Wilkerson Funeral Home www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com 2100 East 5th Street Greenville, NC 27858-3001 (252) 752-2101 Memorial Service Saturday 3 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church www.stpaulsepiscopal.com 401 East Fourth Street, Greenville, NC 27858

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