Local News

State school board remembers Kathy Taft

Posted April 1, 2010

— A single rose surrounded by baby's breath sat in front of Kathy Taft's empty chair at Thursday's state Board of Education meeting.

Fellow board members and family members honored the 62-year-old who died last month after being attacked at a Raleigh home.

She served on the state school board for 15 years – the longest tenure of any current member.

Taft's four children accepted a framed proclamation, their mother's board box containing some of her notes from the last meeting, condolence cards, a rose, a plaque with a glass apple, four pins and coffee mugs.

Kathy Taft's daughters with Gov. Jim Hunt Peers honor Taft

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison said Taft's "incredible work will not be forgotten," especially her push for the ABC program.

"She helped us build this fine system we have in North Carolina and she wants us to keep it going and we gotta do it in her memory," former Gov. Jim Hunt said. Taft was appointed  to the board by Hunt in 1995.

Taft's 26-year-old son, Thomas, said it was wonderful to see how much his mom was respected.

Taft, who lived in Greenville, was found March 6 inside a home at 2710 Cartier Drive in Raleigh. She was staying at the home while the owner was out of town, according to friends.

John Geil, who is listed as the owner of the house, 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.

Police haven't released many details of their investigation since she died March 9 at WakeMed, three days after being brought to the hospital for severe head trauma.

Several sources told WRAL News that Taft's sister called 911 the morning of March 6, indicating that she thought Taft was experiencing complications from a minor surgical procedure she had a day earlier.

Police were called after a surgeon examined Taft and realized she had been assaulted, sources said. Surgical bandages on her face likely concealed the wounds, the sources said.

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said the assault occurred "some hours before" investigators were called, but the time of the crime hadn't been narrowed down from late March 5 to early March 6. Police haven't determined if the assault was a random act of violence.

Taft's family has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information that might help police is asked to call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.


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  • ASU Apr 2, 2010

    They are looking at a lot of people. So the defense attorney can't argue in court you only looked at my client and no one else. The Police know a lot then we do and the median and it should be that why. Why would they tell us everything. That would kill the investigation.

  • mountainlover Apr 1, 2010

    wcnc: I tend to agree with you. The death was ruled as a homicide almost immediately. That tells me that medical professionals and law enforcment know far more than they are telling the public (and that is the way that it should be). I also would bet money that they have a clue; otherwise, they would not be attempting to secure DNA samples. I believe that someone's DNA was found on her body. We all know that anyone who has been in a home could have left DNA. Finding DNA anywhere other than on the body is not reason to take DNA samples. I agree with you. RPD should take their time making an arrest.

  • wildcat Apr 1, 2010

    Rookie cops will never know how to solve crime. They need to take classes to teach them how.

  • wcnc Apr 1, 2010

    Just because there has been no arrest, you think RPD has no clue and there is terrible police work involved? Funny.... I guess you are sitting in on all of their meetings to know this for certain or are you taking an uneducated guess? I bet they know a LOT more than they are releasing.....may still take a while for an arrest, but at least no one will yell about a rush to judgement....

  • vsusu2002 Apr 1, 2010

    "they remember, meanwhile Raleigh's finest still have no clue. Terrible police work"!

    I am sure the police is doing all they can but because they wasn't there when the crime took place, evidence, a witness etc., I could imagine how difficult it is to locate a suspect. I wish the person(s) are caught who committed this act.Just a fishy story to me though.

  • InvolvedCitizen Apr 1, 2010

    Remember Stephanie Bennet, 23, raped and strangled in her N Raleigh apt? That investigation included a voluntary DNA sweep. I'm betting this Taft case will be solved. Sooner would be better, but difficult investiagtions require time. Took RPD over 3 yrs to bust Bennet's killer, but they did. (Then he killed himself in prison.)

  • itsmyownopinion Apr 1, 2010

    Regarding the honor today, I understand family was there, but was it only her children, or was her sister there as well?

  • BigUNCFan Apr 1, 2010

    Also, as far as a fall, you only have to look to the local Mike Peterson trial to see how hard it is to tell if someone accidentically fell or was beaten. I think that case went on for years and was profiled on Nightline and there are still people who are unsure after the parade of experts on both sides at the trial.

  • BigUNCFan Apr 1, 2010


    to answer your questions, we just do not know if a doctor examined her or when the exam was done before her death. And if you read any med journals and studies of the medical profession, you will be surprised at the mistakes that are made. Doctors are human and make mistakes. I have a close friend whose mother died because of a medical mistake.

    As for the DNA requests, that is doing due diligence and personally I think it is a waste of time. 1) anyone willing to give a sample is probably innoncent and 2) if you are a neighbor, you may have been a guest of the house and you could explain DNA that way.

    Many surgeries can be mistaken for a trauma like a beating especially if bandages are off. You also cannot account for such things as a fall down the stairs.

    I am just saying it is hard to say what happened here.

  • mountainlover Apr 1, 2010

    BigUNCFan: I like your screen name. I am a Tar Heel fan, as well. I have some questions? Don't you think that a competent doctor could tell the difference between surgery complications, a fall, and a beating? I could not; however, I pray that a physician could. If there was doubt, would they not have done an autopsy on her? Finally, why would the Raleigh Police Department ask for DNA from any neighbors willing to give samples if DNA was not found at the house that a sample could be matched to?