Local News

Police sought slain school official's text messages

Posted May 12, 2010 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2010 4:31 p.m. EDT

— Raleigh police investigating the homicide of a state school board member obtained text messages from cell phones belonging to her, according to a search warrant returned Wednesday.

Authorities obtained the search warrant March 18, nine days after Kathy Taft died from a fractured skull and extensive brain damage resulting from the attack.

Jason Keith Williford, 30, was arrested April 16 and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape in the case. Investigators have said they do not believe the two knew each other.

As part of murder investigations, a victim's communications are usually examined for evidence. The warrant lists five telephone numbers from which police wanted text messages and other information from March 1 to March 17.

Taft, 62, of Greenville, was recovering from plastic surgery at a friend's home on Cartier Drive in Raleigh when she was raped and beaten repeatedly on the head with a blunt object, according to an autopsy report. She died March 9, three days after her sister found her bloodied and unresponsive, police have said.

Williford, who was later also indicted on a first-degree burglary charge, is being held without bond at Central Prison in Raleigh.