Local News

Police collect DNA samples from neighbors in Taft investigation

Posted March 24, 2010 11:02 a.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2010 11:01 p.m. EDT

— Police have collected DNA samples from neighbors near the Raleigh home where a state Board of Education member was attacked almost three weeks ago.

Officers went door-to-door asking for voluntary samples last week, neighbors said. Two residents who provided samples said investigators told them the DNA was collected in an effort to eliminate suspects.

Experts say “elimination samples” are collected to help investigators focus on other suspects. Raleigh Police have declined to comment on this part of their investigation into the death of 62-year-old Kathy Taft.

Taft died March 9 at WakeMed, three days after being brought to the hospital with severe head trauma.

Several sources told WRAL News that Taft's sister called 911 the morning of March 6 from a home at 2710 Cartier Drive, indicating that she thought Taft was experiencing complications from a minor surgical procedure she had a day earlier.

Police were called after a surgeon examined Taft and realized she had been assaulted, sources said. Surgical bandages on her face likely concealed the wounds, the sources said.

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said the assault 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.

Police haven't determined if the assault was a random act of violence.

Taft was staying at the home of John Geil while recovering from the procedure, according to friends. Geil was in Florida when the attack occurred and has since returned. The pair had dated in the past and were still friends, according to relatives.

Police on Wednesday took down crime scene tape from in front Geil’s home. Authorities also attended a neighborhood watch meeting that night.

Police last week distributed 1,000 fliers to drivers at Oberlin Road and Cartier Drive to generate leads in the case.

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.