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Sister reported 'blood everywhere' after attack on schools official

Posted April 9, 2010
Updated April 13, 2010

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— The sister of State Board of Education member Kathy Taft said there was "blood everywhere" around Taft following an attack last month in a Raleigh home that led to Taft's death, according to a 911 call released Friday.

Taft, 62, died March 9 at WakeMed, three days after she was attacked in the home of a friend and suffered a severe head injury. Search warrants released Friday also state that she had been sexually assaulted.

Shortly after Taft's death, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby asked for all records in the case to be sealed, saying that the premature release of information in the case could hinder the police investigation.

The seal on those search warrants, police reports on the case and two 911 calls expired Friday morning.

Taft, who lived in Greenville, had undergone neck surgery in Raleigh on March 5 and was recovering at the home of John Geil, at 2710 Cartier Drive. The pair had dated in the past and were still friends, according to relatives. Geil was in Florida at the time.

Taft's sister, Dina Arnold Holton, of Oriental, was staying with her while she recuperated.

Holton called 911 at 9:31 a.m. on March 6 to report that her sister was unresponsive and that she thought it was a complication from her surgery.

"She's in the bed. I can't get her up," Holton told the dispatcher. "There is blood everywhere – everywhere."

Holton said her sister seemed fine when she checked on her at 3 a.m., but now her eyelids were blue, she was "foaming at the mouth" and felt clammy.

Police were called after Taft had been taken to WakeMed, when her surgeon examined her and realized she had been assaulted, sources said.

During a second 911 call from WakeMed at 11:48 a.m., a hospital worker requested police for "a possible rape investigation."

Family members told WakeMed emergency room staff that they suspected Taft had been raped, and a medical exam found evidence of a sexual assault.

"The family thinks they might have seen somebody, but they really don't know," the hospital worker told the 911 dispatcher. "We can't ask the patient anything."

The 911 calls were played to Taft's family before being released to the public. Kathy Taft's daughter, Paige Fuqua, said that her aunt's words as she discovered her mother brought her to tears.

"I head some things I didn't really want to hear, some details. It was just sad," Fuqua said. "I hate to think of my mom suffering like she did."

Police have said that the attack 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.

As part of their investigation, police searched Holton's 2002 Dodge Durango and recovered a handwritten note, some fingerprints and swabs of DNA, according to a search warrant released Friday.

Holton, who was present at the time of the search, told police she locked her keys in the SUV and left her car at a Harris Teeter a block from Cartier Drive.

A person who works in the shopping center told WRAL News that he saw the Durango was unoccupied with the engine running in the parking lot when he arrived for work at 6 a.m. on March 6.

Raleigh defense attorney Dan Boyce, who isn't connected to the case, said people shouldn't infer anything because Horton's vehicle was searched.

"That doesn't mean she is a prime suspect in any way, but you have to go through that process of elimination and say who it might be and who it probably isn't," Boyce said. "There's no indication in (the search warrants) that they've zeroed in on a single individual."

Police took an image off the security video at Harris Teeter that showed a tall man carrying a messenger bag – the man's face couldn't be seen because he wasn't facing the camera – and showed it to store owners in the Glenwood Village Shopping Center as they searched for leads. Several store owners said they didn't recognize the man.

Police also seized Taft's 2005 Lexus for examination. From it, they recovered a checkbook and a hotel receipt.

In a search of Geil's home, police seized sheets and pillows, clothing, golf clubs, shotgun barrels, desktop and laptop computers, beer bottles, dishes, two receipts from Harris Teeter and other items.

Boyce said the variety of items seized in the case show investigators are trying to turn over every leaf to uncover evidence.

"If they find a fingerprint or find DNA evidence of an individual that had no reason to be in that house, that is evidence of guilt," he said.

Geil's home remained sealed off with yellow crime scene tape for almost three weeks after Taft was attacked.

In late March, officers handed out 1,000 fliers at a neighborhood checkpoint, and neighbors said that officers collected DNA samples from them in an attempt to rule out suspects.

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.

Retired Raleigh police homicide detective Chris Morgan, who is not connected to this case, believes officers, some of whom he has worked with, are considering every possible lead.

“You have got a group of very good detectives,” Morgan said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • piknowles4 Apr 9, 2010

    It's probably like the Mike Peterson defense theory - An owl did it.

  • Adelinthe Apr 9, 2010

    Jay -


    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Apr 9, 2010

    Lord, I'm reading all this, and I just can't see how those blaming the sister don't add up 2+2 and come up with 3 or 5.


    None of the evidence even remotely points to that.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Apr 9, 2010

    podtalk - "The 911 call from the sister doesn't sound right to me, I think she knows more than she's telling. She sure didn't seem very upset to find her sister in that condition. Don't rule her out, somethings just not right."

    Uhmmm, ok - so her sister raped her.

    God bless.


  • Jay4 Apr 9, 2010

    I am praying that the entity that did this will be bound and sent to hell from which it came....and that the whole truth will be loosed into this situation.

    May God bless the grieving family members and may He bring His redeeming love and comfort into all of their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies in order to deliver them all from the pain of all that has happened, replacing that pain with His peace, power, and presence.

  • carla349 Apr 9, 2010

    Yep, "this IS the place to do it". It's perfectly acceptable to wonder what may have happened in such an odd crime. I apologize to know one for proposing a theory on GOLO for goodness sakes. Perhaps those with a superior moral code should read the articles without going to the comment section? Then you can leave it up to the cops without us having to hear you whine about it. It's annoying. Really.

  • podtalk Apr 9, 2010

    The 911 call from the sister doesn't sound right to me, I think she knows more than she's telling. She sure didn't seem very upset to find her sister in that condition. Don't rule her out, somethings just not right.

  • twc Apr 9, 2010

    "But twc. NOone intimated they were shaming the victim. The Media states their policy "does not identify victims of sexual assault" b/c of the liability and that is from the police being UNABLE BY LAW to Id these victims. c2sides"

    There is no law like that and it is not because of fear of liability by the media!!

  • freddie cadetti 72 Apr 9, 2010

    My good friend had a female detective state in her report "based on my experience, I am convinced he raped her". She was not supposed to give her opinion. She was supposed to list the facts. She was wrong...the DNA proved it, he wasn't even there that evening, the charges dismissed. So, to all you who complain about armchair detective work...save that comment for the RPD.

  • Wolfheel Tarpack Apr 9, 2010

    Has anyone ever seen Extreme Makeover? Those folks with nose jobs and face lifts are swollen, bruised and well bandaged. I can see if you're supposed to be looking after someone and fail to do so completely and return to see lots of blood that you'd immediately lightly check, but then call 911. I would be afraid of causing more bleeding and more problems.

    Curious why no mention from the homeowner. Could he have had children or a girlfriend or "squatters" who also used his home and could have done this -- maybe out of jealousy.

    About a will ... Taft had four children and a number of grandchildren, thus if there were folks to be listed in a will, I am sure they stand to gain the most over the sister. Doubt that's an angle.