Police ask men near Taft crime scene for DNA

Police investigate at the crime scene.

March 25, 2010 12:58:30 PM PDT
Desperate for leads in the North Carolina Board of Education member Kathy Taft murder case, investigators are now asking men near the crime scene for DNA samples.

Several neighbors along Cartier Driver told ABC11 they have agreed to be tested.

Taft, 62, was found by her sister at the home of a friend at 2710 Cartier Drive Saturday, March 6. A person with knowledge of the case told ABC11 the sister thought Taft was suffering complication from a plastic surgery procedure the day before. But when she was taken to the hospital, the surgeon who performed the surgery realized she'd been assaulted. Taft died from her injuries three days later.

Detectives released the crime scene to the owner Wednesday, but there's still a high police presence in the neighborhood. Thursday, there were patrols both on foot and by car. At least one detective was back interviewing neighbors. Some, like Joseph Andrews, have gotten a second or third visit. He said he agreed to give a DNA sample.

"They asked me did I, would I, take a swab, you know, a saliva sample," he explained. "He said he was gonna do every, all the males in the neighborhood or on this street in this area."

Andrews said he was glad to do it.

"I knew I didn't do anything, so I didn't really care either way, you know. I think they might have been looking for a reaction," he said.

Andrews and others think the request for DNA samples can mean only one thing: investigators either already have - or expect to soon have - tests that show the killer's DNA.

As of Thursday morning, there were still a few neighbors - like Emily Debusk - who police had not interviewed. She was glad to hear about the DNA tests - apparently a broad approach expected to eliminate suspects more than find one.

"Anything that could help potentially find the person who did this is beneficial," she offered.

Police left a flier at Debusk's house asking to her call when she was home. But before she could, an investigator showed up minutes after our interview.

She figured he might even ask her husband for a DNA sample.

All the men we spoke with say they gladly complied - hoping it will help find the killer.

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.

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