Local News

Police called from hospital about school official's injuries

Posted March 10, 2010 11:43 a.m. EST
Updated March 11, 2010 9:47 a.m. EST

— A 911 call made after a member of the state Board of Education was assaulted Saturday didn't mention that she had been attacked, several sources told WRAL News on Wednesday.

Kathy Taft, 62, died Tuesday afternoon, three days after she was attacked in the Raleigh home of a friend and suffered a severe head injury.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Wednesday that he asked for all records in the case to be sealed because the premature release of information in the case could hinder the police investigation.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens' order includes the recording of a 911 call made after the attack, police incident reports and applications for search warrants.

Sources told WRAL News that Taft's sister called 911 from the home Saturday morning, indicating that she thought Taft was experiencing complications from a surgery she had undergone the previous day.

Police were called only after Taft had been taken to WakeMed, where her surgeon examined her and realized she had been assaulted, sources said. Surgical bandages on her face likely concealed the wounds, they said.

Police have not yet said whether someone from the hospital or Taft's sister reported the assault following the surgeon's examination.

Taft, who lives in Greenville, had a minor surgical procedure and was staying at the home at 2710 Cartier Drive while she recovered, according to friends.

The homeowner, John Geil, 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.

Taft's sister, who also was staying in the home, went to wake her for breakfast Saturday and called 911 upon finding her unresponsive.

Police haven't determined if the assault was a random act of violence, and yellow crime scene tape and Raleigh police cars surrounded the house for a fifth day Wednesday.

Investigators said Wednesday that they were trying to determine whether an attempted break-in on Wayland Drive, a block from Cartier Drive, was related to Taft's assault. The crime occurred sometime between last Thursday and Tuesday while the homeowner was out of town, police said.

"I'm a little bit concerned for the safety, but it's been a safe neighborhood for 11 years that I know of," said Allison Dickens, who lives on Wayland Drive. "We are upset that this happened to the lady, that such a terrible thing could happen."

Thomas Dameron, who lives a few doors down from where the attempted burglary occurred, said he's not convinced it's connected to Taft's assault.

"It's definitely possible, but really, without knowing anymore than we do, it's hard to draw any conclusions," Dameron said.

Still, area residents are being more cautious. They asked to have a street light that wasn't working on Cartier Drive replaced.

Investigators with the Greenville Police Department said they don't have a record of any threat or conflict involving Taft. Greenville police said they aren't involved in Raleigh's investigation.

Taft's family offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

A memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville.

Besides serving on the state school board for 15 years – she had the longest tenure of any current member – Taft also ran for state Senate in 2008.

Anyone with information that might help police detectives is asked to call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP. The number is staffed throughout day, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that helps solve the case.

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