Videos

Interview in 2002 with Deborah Dixon of Channel 12 Cincinnati

A local man is haunted by an unsolved murder he witnessed 35 years ago. He was 18 months old when his mother was raped and murdered in their Springfield, Ohio home.

Now for the first time DNA tests are underway on bloody shoeprints and towels taken from the home. Crime Stoppers reporter Deborah Dixon shows us, they're shedding new light on a case that went cold in 1966.

"Kind of a double-edged sword where you'd like to be able to remember it, but you're also kind of glad that you don't."

Aaron Taylor tried hypnotherapy to get an image of the man who raped and murdered his mother 35 years ago. He was there when it happened.

"Images of folding clothes, and everything kind of just went white instead of black, which the doctor at the time had said 'well, that's kind of a defense mechanism that your mind uses to shut you down.'"

Anita Taylor's husband was working nights at the factory when someone in a murderous rage beat and raped the young mother. He used a glass bottle to mangle her face. Then in a final cruel act, he stomped her. A size 8-1/2 shoeprint was on her neck, like the bloody shoeprint on the floor. Anita Taylor drowned in her own blood.

"For so much violence in that..and so much hatred or anger one way or another, it just doesn't make any sense for someone who was very demure, very shy."

Anita Taylor's killer severely beat her 18-month-old son --even broke one of his legs. Then the killer did something odd: he picked up the child and put him back in his crib and left him there while his mother was dying in the next room.

"It was a young woman in her home in a fairly quiet neighborhood..."

"...And probably killed by someone who knew her."

"I would think so."

Chief David Walters says it seems unlikely a stranger would pick out the Taylors' house at random. Larry Taylor found his wife when he got off work and was long considered the prime suspect; he later died in a motorcycle accident. Francis Edwards went to high school with the couple.

"I know what had happened: they spent too much time on one person, and..."

"...on her husband..."

"...on her husband. And that was...those of us who knew them, knew where he was that night."

DNA tests completed this month on Anita Taylor's semen-stained panties show Larry Taylor did not kill his wife. Now Springfield police plan to get more detailed DNA tests to try and match it with the killer.

"Seems like it's worse as I get older, it seems like it's worse, and I cry every day and it don't do any good but I can't help it."

93-year-old Elizabeth Huffenburger raised her daughter's son.

"Although, yeah, I was definitely cheated not being able to even know my mother, but at the same time I can't say that the way things turned out was completely bad because I was surrounded by a lot of positive people and a lot of love."

But still this man is haunted by what he doesn't know, what he does know and what he believes: that his mother's killer is still around Springfield, still holding onto a 35-year-old secret of murder. Deborah Dixon, 12 News.

If you want to learn more about this case, check out the family's website at TaylorCase.com. You can submit possible leads there or you can call Crime Stoppers at 352-3040.

Interview in 2004 with Raquel Eatmon of Channel 2 Dayton

2 News First investigates why finding a killer is a Springfield woman's dying wish.

"I just wonder if there is a god to have taken her like that."

"Even after 30 years it's probably one of the more brutal ones I've ever seen."

"You think about it all the time, as far as what would happen if you could actually find the person..."

It's the lifelong mission of Aaron Taylor and the dying wish of 95-year-old Elizabeth Huffenburger, mother and son of Anita Taylor, still grieving 37 years after someone murdered her. Aaron was 18 months old on Halloween Eve, 1966. When Aaron's father came home from work early that morning, he discovered a sickening scene: someone attacked Anita. They bashed in her face with a broken pop bottle.

"From what I understand was the assailant stepped on her throat."

Anita lay naked, dying on her bedroom floor, drowning in her own blood.

"Couldn't tell who she was...oh!"

"Take your time..."

"Poor little thing. She lay in there on the floor for quite a while."

Anita's killer didn't stop there: he also attacked baby Aaron.

"The little baby was in his crib with one little leg up and the other one down because his legs were broken."

"The first thing that was very obvious was the brutality of the whole thing. I mean, a young lady and a young child..."

Fred Levan, a rookie patrolman, was one of the first officers on the scene.

"There's certain things I remember very clear at this time."

The killer left clues behind, including a bloody size 8-1/2 footprint. It was embedded in the faces of both Anita and Aaron --a way to trace the killer's steps from the attack in the bedroom to the escape out the back door.

There are a lot of leads for police to follow and lots of theories about who killed Anita Taylor inside of her Ludlow Avenue home. Suspicion soon turned to one man: Anita's husband and baby Aaron's father.

"My opinion, even to this day: it was not a random stranger who did that, no. It was an acquaintance of some type."

But Levan and others couldn't pin the killing on Larry Taylor. They cleared him when witnesses said Taylor was at work the night his wife died. Then there was a woman who came forward.

"Here's what I know...here's the story that I've been told from my father was that he'd received a confession from someone back in the day."

Police even questioned Anita's boss. She worked for him at Public Finance in downtown Springfield.

"She was there for seven days and had just received her first paycheck, had cashed it, and it was still sitting on the TV when they found her."

Anita's Mom still thinks back on some strange behavior.

"Well, I think it was him, because he...she said he followed her home every night. I said, 'what for?' She said he wanted to see that she got home safe."

In fact, a lot of leads poured into Springfield police, but none of them panned out. That's why Aaron wanted to see if he could remember anything that might help police find the person who killed his mother.

"I went to a hypnotherapist in Cincinnati."

Aaron did recall some images from that deadly night.

"I can see clothes being folded...piles of clothes. It got to a point where it was really strange..it was like somebody, literally somebody took an iron, like a clothes iron, and stuck it right up against my face. And then everything was really white instead of being when you close your eyes it's dark..and it was like a flash and extreme heat on one of my cheeks and I remember flinching away from it."

But police didn't find any burns on Aaron, and despite intense therapy, Aaron could not describe his attacker. Without an eyewitness or any physical evidence to point police to a suspect, the case went cold until 2002, when Aaron learned what might be evidence from two sources.

"There was a light that was on the back porch. One of the few things that they truly do have from the crime scene is a partial print on that light."

Police say that was not a fingerprint, but a partial palm print and they could not match it to any suspects. And Aaron says police told him they found a DNA match to evidence on Anita's underwear.

"We were very hopeful. We went to Springfield Police Department. We were informed we have a sample: it's not yours, it's not your mother's, it's not your father's --we've got a foreign DNA in there somewhere."

But Springfield Police Chief Steven Moody told me there is no DNA hit --a blow to Aaron and his family.

"That really hurt as far as, you know, you think you actually got a sample...I mean, that's huge."

"I cry so much about it and just wondered how he can be living and, you know, done such..he knew he had killed her, he knew he hurt the baby."

Alright and in case you are wondering, Aaron has made a full recovery from his broken legs, but his broken heart of course is another story.

And talking about some suspects, you have three: we're talking about Larry Taylor, the husband and father, and then we're talking about the boss. What happened?

Well, Colleen, Larry died in a motorcycle crash in 1979. As far as the boss, I'm told he is still alive, living in Virginia.

Oh my goodness! Obviously Aaron hasn't given up on this.

No and, to be honest, he said that he never will give up on this, but he has set up a website. Now the address is on the bottom of your screen. That is TaylorCase.com. If you go there you can actually read the case history or supply tips to Aaron.

Speaking of tips, if there's one thing we've learned at Crime Stoppers over the years: you offer a reward, that can motivate people. Anything like that in this case?

Well somebody has 50,000 reasons now to do that. Fifty thousand dollars is the reward and the website and that reward are the only two hopes for Aaron and Anita's 95-year-old mother to find some peace, if they can.

Well, you never know, I mean these cases have been solved before after this length of time.

They have been. Absolutely.

We wish them well. Alright, Raquel, thank you.