Local News

Autopsy: Schools official had fractured skull, brain damage

Posted April 29, 2010

— State Board of Education member Kathy Taft suffered a fractured skull and extensive brain damage in a March beating that led to her death, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.

Taft, 62, of Greenville, was recovering from plastic surgery at a friend's home on Cartier Drive in Raleigh 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.

Taft's head injuries indicate that she was struck multiple times with a blunt object, according to the autopsy report. She also had been sexually assaulted, the report said.

Jason Keith Williford, 30, of 2812-D Wayland Drive, was arrested two weeks ago and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape in her death.

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, and it matched evidence found at the scene of Taft's attack.

Court records show that Williford was convicted of 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. Two years later, his girlfriend at the time filed a protective order against him, alleging that he abused alcohol, was "emotionally unstable" and made harassing phone calls.


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  • grayboomerang Apr 29, 2010

    Freddie....give me a break.....it was a random act of violence.

  • deduce Apr 29, 2010

    freddie cadetti 72: after all of the ridiculous, incorrect and intellectually void speculation that you have spewed in relation to this case...all of which now proven wrong and silly, can't you just have the decency to stop. My only wish is that the family sues you for the garbage you polluted golo with about the sister's involvement. Have some decency and go away.

  • Prancy Apr 29, 2010

    Why do people keep posting that the public does not need to know this or that about the case or asking why the media keeps reporting on this story? It's because many people are VERY interested in the story. I live near the murder scene and have a vested interest in the outcome of this case. I want every t crossed and every i dotted. I want to know EVERYTHING. And I have a right to know it, unless it is sealed by a court order.

    Which leads me to this question. Where is the autopsy report? I want to see that too. I want to know everything possible and discuss it on comment boards like this. This victim was a wonderful person and no stone should be left unturned in the attempt to punish her attacker. I think the more questions that are asked, the better. No fact should be ignored and all matters should be up for scruitny.

    When you are the victim of a horrific crime, your story becomes everyone's business. We have to make it our business to make sure justice is done.

  • jeffingarner Apr 29, 2010

    "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." RIP Kathy. There is more to life.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Apr 29, 2010

    Compared to some of the gum-ball theories posted by the subject-matter experts in here, I believe a more plausible scenario is more along the lines of alien abduction or missing time. Space doctors have a very poor bed-side manor.

  • iamyeary Apr 29, 2010

    I would assume that she was recovering from her plastic surgery at her ex boyfriends house so that she could go unnoticed until she was ready to return to her home and to work. Perhaps her killer had been using this home in the past for drug use and stumbled upon Kathy. It will be good when we can finally know what really happened and why the sister knows nothing when she was also supposedly in the house along with Kathy. ???

  • csplantlover Apr 29, 2010

    Yes, I agree - I cant imagine what the sister was doing that she couldn't hear someone being beat to death and raped........this guy is a piece of work if he is the one who did this.

  • freddie cadetti 72 Apr 29, 2010

    Grayboomerang...I'll write slower this time so maybe you will understand. My senerio supposes that they were "involved" in some way...intimately, or otherwise. She certainly has the right, but unless you want to be less than honest...she's beautiful just as her pic shows , without it, and just maybe this guy was jealous enough as it was. So he killed her out of rage that she was maybe going to dump him after the surgery and healing. Hence the Cougar/Fatal attraction thing. Yuo don't have to throw out the "it's a free country" bs, because I know it is...at least for now.

  • saturn5 Apr 29, 2010

    Why does anyone care what kind of surgery it was? That has NOTHING to do with her being raped and beaten to death.

  • grayboomerang Apr 29, 2010

    Freddie...I still don't understand why she felt the need to have ANY cosmetic surgery. Sounds like he knew her...was upset she was doing all this extreme makeover stuff, and what resulted was a cougartown/fatal attraction senerio. Whether or not that's what happened, it would make for a good novel or Lifetime channel movie. Stay tuned....

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Last time I checked, this is a free country and people can make their own choices about elective surgery. This has got to be the most ridiculous conclusion yet as to why this man selected her as his victim.