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Police: 'Considerable progress' in probe of official's slaying

Posted March 11, 2010

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— Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said Thursday that investigators have made "considerable progress" in their investigation of the death of a state Board of Education member.

Kathy Taft, 62, died Tuesday afternoon, three days after she was attacked in the Raleigh home of a friend and suffered a severe head injury.

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan Web only: Police discuss schools official's slaying

"While many questions still surround this case, the work needed to provide answers is well underway," Dolan said at a news conference.

Police haven't yet determined if the assault was a random act of violence, he said. Yellow crime scene tape and Raleigh police cars surrounded the house for a sixth day Thursday.

"We will secure a crime scene for as long as it takes to do as thorough a job as we can," he said.

Several sources have told WRAL News that Taft's sister called 911 Saturday morning from the home at 2710 Cartier Drive, indicating that she thought Taft was experiencing complications from a surgery she had undergone the previous day.

Police were called only after Taft had been taken to WakeMed, where her surgeon examined her and realized she had been assaulted, sources said. Surgical bandages on her face likely concealed the wounds, they said.

Taft, who lives in Greenville, had a minor surgical procedure and was staying at the home while she recovered, according to friends.

The homeowner, John Geil, was in Florida when the attack occurred but has since returned. The pair had dated in the past and were still friends, according to relatives.

Taft's sister, who also was staying in the home, went to wake her for breakfast Saturday and called 911 upon finding her unresponsive and her bandages bloodied.

Dolan said the assault occurred "some hours before" investigators were called, but he said the time of the crime hadn't been narrowed down from late Friday to early Saturday.

Investigators also haven't determined whether an attempted break-in on Wayland Drive, a block from Cartier Drive, was related to Taft's assault, Dolan said. The crime occurred sometime between last Thursday and Tuesday while the homeowner was out of town, police said.

Kathy Taft Police cannot rule out random violence in attack

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has ordered that all records in the case be sealed for the time being so that the premature release of information doesn't jeopardize the investigation. The order includes the recording of a 911 call made after the attack, police incident reports and applications for search warrants.

"We have to be very careful releasing information," Dolan said. "It's for the integrity of the investigation, so that we do the very best job we can for Mrs. Taft and her family."

Stephens on Thursday denied requests by media outlets to unseal the records.

Nearby residents are being more cautious, asking to have a broken street light on Cartier Drive replaced.

Dolan urged extra vigilance by people in the surrounding community, especially since police haven't ruled out random violence in the case.

"We can't reassure the public with information we don't have," he said. "When a homicide happens in your neighborhood, you should be concerned, and it's very alarming."

Taft's family has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

A memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville.

Besides serving on the state school board for 15 years – she had the longest tenure of any current member – Taft also ran for state Senate in 2008.

Anyone with information that might help police is asked to call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Karmageddon Mar 12, 2010

    On the other hand, maybe Steve Urkel bluffed playing Polka

  • Karmageddon Mar 12, 2010

    POKER - Superman....not Polka.....no one bluffs in Polka

  • countess Mar 12, 2010

    My final opinion is that she died of a botched surgery or complications from the surgery. It is true that she would not be going on a "breakfast date" with bandages on her face and not to mention, she must have looked terrible with the bruising and swelling. No woman would go out of the house looking like that. Seems a killer would have targeted the other woman who was alert because she would be able to identify him/her not the lady with the bandages all over her face taking pain medication. Sounding more and more fishy and starting to SMELL..

  • superman Mar 12, 2010

    The police are playing polka. If you dont have anything -- try to bluff your way! They said they were making progress-- but didnt announce that an arrest would be made. It probably happened at night and it was dark and everyone in the neighborhood was asleep and no one saw or heard anything. The sister was in the house asleep and she doesnt seem to know anything.

  • passport423 Mar 12, 2010

    I don't think the story has changed. The sister probably went to ask Ms. Taft , "what can I fix you for breakfast", found her unresponsive, assumed it was from the surgery and called 911. Some people know how to incapacitate a victim with one blow to the head so being beaten to death does not necessarily mean several blows over several parts of the body.

  • LongHorns Mar 12, 2010

    This is the Raleigh Police not the Wake County. They know who did it. Soon give it time.

  • American56 Mar 12, 2010


    I certainly would not go anyplace with my head bandaged after surgery. I could not see well enough for a couple of days to even consider it, and I did not want the stares and assumptions from the public.

    This seems to get more strange with each passing day and report.

  • working for deadbeats Mar 12, 2010

    I'm very disappointed that our GOLO detective team hasn't solved this crime yet. You all know so much about nothing, so it shouldn't be much longer until you find the perp. Most of you talk a big game about law enforcement, so get to work!

  • DangYankee Mar 12, 2010

    mtnmama: Having had facial (cosmetic) surgery a few years ago, I know *I* didn't want to be seen in public even a WEEK after my surgery, with or without bandages! As someone pointed out yesterday, what's the odds of being attacked on the same day of a facial surgery, such that the bandages hid the assault wounds? And, if it was an assault, is an (unknown) attacker likely to just hit the face and head, or would there be abrasions and contusions all over her body? I realize the details are being withheld for now, and, no doubt, the autopsy hasn't been completed, but it makes me wonder...

    It smells like a fish left out in the sun...

  • mtnmama Mar 12, 2010

    How many of you would go out to a breakfast date with your face bandaged from surgery?