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New warrants released in state school official's slaying

Raleigh police seized dozens of items from the home of a Raleigh man accused of raping and killing Kathy Taft, a 15-year member of the State Board of Education.

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Kathy A. Taft
RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.

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