KathyTaft assault now homicide


A third release, this time from WakeMed in Raleigh, confirmed Taft's death following erroneaous statements released earlier Tuesday.

According to a police spokesperson, she died shortly after noon and the case is now a homicide.

Governor Beverly Perdue released the following statement after learning of Taft's death:

"I have known Kathy Taft as a dear friend for more than 25 years. The kindness she showed me, as a fellow woman from down east working to make a difference, is something I will never forget. Her passion for education and for finding every opportunity to better serve North Carolina's children has clearly made this state a better place to live and raise a family. For that, we all owe Kathy a debt of gratitude. I will miss her terribly."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison lauded Taft for her service and commitment to North Carolina public schools.

"I am greatly saddened to hear the news that long-time State Board of Education member and friend Kathy Taft passed away today. Ms. Taft has been an instrumental member of the State Board of Education for 15 years and a stalwart supporter of the 1.5 million public school students in our state. Ms. Taft's service to the Board and to the citizens of North Carolina has included many important milestones such as the state's initial accountability model for schools, the development of charter schools and current efforts to ensure that our state prepares students for the 21st century. Our Board and our state are diminished by the untimely death of this dedicated citizen."

U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) said:

"I am deeply saddened to hear that my dear friend Kathy Taft has passed away. Since 1995, Kathy has been an exceptional member of the State Board of Education, serving for longer than any other individual. As her neighbors, friends and family will tell you, she was a dedicated member of the North Carolina community and an advocate for our children. Her loss will be deeply felt around the state."

WakeMed and Raleigh police confirmed her death around 1 p.m.; however, those confirmations were preceeded by confusion of Taft's death and resulted in retractions just before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

ABC11 Eyewitness News received an e-mail from the Taft family around 11 a.m. Tuesday stating that Taft had been removed from life-support. Within ten minutes of a police statement also confirming her death, police retracted that statement. A retraction from the family followed shortly.

According to an e-mail from the Taft family law firm in Greenville, N.C., 62-year-old Taft was surrounded by family and friends at WakeMed in Raleigh when she passed away.

"Her Episcopalian Priest and dear friend administered Last Rites to her at her bedside in the presence of her family," according to family's statement.

Taft had been in intensive care since Saturday, following an attack at a friend's house.

She was in Raleigh for a medical procedure on Friday and was staying at a home home Cartier Dr. while recovering. She was found Saturday at the home, which belongs to her friend, Raleigh Attorney John Geil.

The Tafts expressed their support for Geil in their written statement. Police say he was visiting family in Florida at the time of the attack and is not a suspect in the assault.

Taft was the mother of four, and a grandmother of six.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

The 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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