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New warrants released in state school official's slaying

Posted April 23, 2010

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— Police investigating a Raleigh man accused of killing a state school board official searched his home and car and seized dozens of items, including four knives, a hammer and an AA meeting schedule, according to search warrants released Friday.

Investigators also asked for permission to get a DNA sample from Jason Williford, who was arrested last week and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape in the death of Kathy Taft.

The April 16 warrants indicate that detectives obtained DNA evidence from various items found at the crime scene, but they offered no other new details about the case.

Taft, 62, a 15-year member of the State Board of Education, was recovering from surgery at a friend's home on Cartier Drive when she was attacked. Her sister found her bloodied and unresponsive on the morning of March 6, and she died three days later from severe head injuries.

Police arrested Williford, 30, of 2812-D Wayland Drive, Friday at a Jordan Lake campground.

Sources told WRAL News that investigators became suspicious after Williford, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the home where Taft was staying, refused to provide DNA to police. Investigators were collecting DNA samples from people near the crime scene to eliminate them as possible suspects.

Officers later obtained a sample of Williford’s DNA from a discarded cigarette butt, sources said.

Search warrants also indicate that investigators seized a bottle of oil, eight cans of spray paint, 11 tubes of paint, two cans of shoe polish, a paperback novel, a limb pruner, a walking stick, 30 pairs of panties, a smoking bong, numerous CDs, DVDs and diskettes and two laptop computers.

Financial documents, two notebook, several handwritten notes and letters, two pairs of black dress shoes, black leather gloves two bottles containing pills and a rock bass guitar were also listed in the warrants as items seized.

Authorities haven't offered a motive for Taft's death but have said they believe she did not know her attacker.

Many of Williford's neighbors said he kept to himself and said they do not know him. Others who do know him described him as someone not well-liked.

Court records show that he has convictions for breaking and entering in 1998 and 2001.

In 2003, police charged him with communicating threats and making harassing phone calls, but the charges were voluntarily dismissed.

In 2005, his girlfriend at the time filed a protective order against him, alleging that he abused alcohol, was "emotionally unstable" and made harassing phone calls.

44 Comments

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  • homebrewer Apr 23, 2010

    "HOMEBREWER.i SURE HOPE THAT YOU GET A JOB SOON. yOUR RAMBLING IS OUT OF SIGHT" - Eduardo1
    Eduardo 1- I made an intelligent, well thought out post on what I perceived from the article, adding in my comments and thoughts as most do on a online forum. Serveral have disagreed, a couple of agreed, etc, but we all were civil and respected each others point of view. I do have a job, which I will be leaving to go down to the coast for the weekend. This is because I have invested in myself with going to school, getting a degree, and having motivation to better myself and provide a nice life for my family.
    The subject we were discussing was Constitutional rights issues, be it if they were violated or not, etc. You did not add any input to this so my assumptions are, that you do not have the capacity to interpret what the grown-ups were talking about, and instead interpreted it as rambling.

    BTW it is considered rude and not following good "webetiquette" to use all CAPS in postings.

  • mountainlover Apr 23, 2010

    While I agree that someone has a constitutional right to refuse to give a DNA sample, I find it strange that those in the surrounding neighborhood who should be eager to see a murder solved would refuse to give a sample. If I were the police that would be suspicious to me. IF that person in the neighborhood also had a rap sheet for breaking and entering in the past, I believe that would make me more suspicious.

    I also suppose that labs set suspects up; however, if we constantly go around looking for that no one would ever be convicted of committing a crime. To those of you who bring that up do you have any evidence whatsoever that this suspect has been set up? If not, what are you after? Do you want criminals to be set free unless someone catching them in the act? I don't know, but I would be will to wager a bet that you would change your mind if one of your loved ones was ever a victim. At that point, you would be thankful for good police work.

  • didisaythat Apr 23, 2010

    Homebrewer, I see your point...but you cannot say that anything improper was done with the suspicion. He refused to give DNA HIS RIGHT. And as an officer it is my right to think someone is suspicious. They took that suspicion, probably more than just the refusal and ran with it....That is police work. They obtained a discarded item and tested it. Nothing improper there. So the constitutionally protected act that the suspect did is what got him caught. I love it. All the defense attorneys and bleeding hearts out there that try to get more rights to suspects than victims can suck it...the good guys got this one. This is about making the criminals accountable for their actions. You should wnat the criminals off the street and not hide behind "oh but the police were being suspicious and that jsut doesn't seem right" if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. IF you have put yourself in a position to be accused you need to worry or tell the truth if you didn

  • diana123 Apr 23, 2010

    ughhkkk, to think this creep is the last thing to climb up
    on you. yuck

  • tgcmisc Apr 23, 2010

    Eduardo1,

    Thanks for the correction. I knew it was an old line. I was actually thinking about the movie staring Kevin Spacey, "The Usual Suspects".

    Folks want to know things....that is why we have the FOI rules.

    One question...where is it stated that RPD obtained the DNA from a discarded cigarette...I tried to use the correct name, but that word is banned...even though it is in the article.

    I have read a lot...not all...but could not remember where the info on the first DNA match came from. The warrants today, I think, do NOT reference that.

    Thanks,

  • bookish42 Apr 23, 2010

    I believe I read that one of his early convictions was for burglary, which is a more serious offense than breaking and entering. Burglary means breaking into an occupied building and many years ago it was a capital offense.

  • Jeremiah Apr 23, 2010

    Get 'em Golo Detectives!!!

  • qbmurf Apr 23, 2010

    The way RPD gathered the evidence is perfectly legal. Littering is illegal and he could be charged with it as well. It seems trivial based on the other charges he's facing. If he didn't want them to get his DNA he should have pocketed the cigarette butt.

  • passport423 Apr 23, 2010

    It will probably turn out that the 30 pairs of panties weren't with his wife's things. That he had them stashed somewhere for safekeeping. Maybe in different sizes and that made RPD think maybe they are trophies from previous break-ins. They probably have good reason for seizing the panties.

  • dugmeister Apr 23, 2010

    Professor Plum did it on the Love Boat with Charles Nelson Reilly's glasses. DO I WIN!!??? DO I WIN???

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