Local News

Suspect to make first court appearance in Kathy Taft slaying

Posted April 18, 2010 3:39 p.m. EDT
Updated April 18, 2010 11:42 p.m. EDT

— A suspect in the slaying of State Board of Education member Kathy Taft will make his first court appearance Monday.

Jason Keith Williford, 30, of 2812-D Wayland Drive, was arrested Friday at a campground at Lake Jordan, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. He is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the death of 62-year-old Taft.

Taft died March 9 at WakeMed, three days after she was assaulted at the 2710 Cartier Drive home of a friend and suffered a severe head injury.

On March 6, her sister, Dina Arnold Holton, of Oriental, called 911 to say that Taft was having complications from neck surgery and was unresponsive. A surgeon realized that Taft had been assaulted, and a medical exam also turned up evidence of a sexual assault.

Police have not released details of what led to Williford's arrest, but Chief Harry Dolan said Saturday that DNA was "instrumental."

Williford was uncooperative in the investigation and was identified as a suspect a few days ago, the police chief said. That identification came independently of a review of his criminal record – he has convictions for breaking-and-entering in Wake County.

There are no other persons of interest in the case, and Williford is not a suspect in any other crime, Dolan said.

Williford was being held without bond in the Wake County jail Sunday. His court appearance is set for 2 p.m. Monday.  Taft's daughter, Page Fuqua, said she plans to be in the courtroom.

"I wouldn't miss it for anything. I plan to be there in the front row," Fuqua said Saturday.