WRAL Investigates

Taft murder suspect described as 'emotionally unstable'

Posted April 21, 2010 3:36 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2012 11:22 a.m. EDT

— The man charged with rape and murder in the death of State Board of Education member Kathy Taft had a protective order filed against him several years ago alleging that he was "emotionally unstable" and that his "violence is unpredictable."

The February 2005 order, obtained Wednesday by WRAL News, was filed by Jason Keith Williford's former girlfriend. Williford was arrested last week and charged with the March 6 attack on Taft that led to her death.

According to a request for the order, the woman – whose name has been redacted to protect her identity – alleged that, on the day her son was born in November 2004, Williford went to the hospital drunk, threw her into a door, pulled her hair and punched her. From November to February, he continually made harassing phone calls, she said.

The woman had no comment Wednesday.

Documents also showed that the couple fought over custody of the child until the court terminated his visitation rights when it was determined that he was not the biological father.

Court records do not indicate any charges or convictions on the February 2005 allegations, but they do indicate that he was charged in October 2003 with communicating threats and making harassing phone calls against her. The charges were voluntarily dismissed.

Williford, 30, of 2812-D Wayland Drive, faces one count each of first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape in Taft's death. Her sister found her bloodied and unresponsive in a home where they were staying on Cartier Drive. Taft died three days later at WakeMed.

Sources said Williford, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the home, refused to provide DNA to police, which made investigators suspicious. Officers obtained a sample of his DNA from a discarded cigarette butt, sources said.

Shortly after his arrest Friday at a Jordan Lake campground, police searched the apartment where he and his wife live, and authorities had his car towed from the scene.

Many neighbors said Williford kept to himself and that they had never met him. Some who do know him, however, have said he was not well-liked and carried on in a cavalier manner in the weeks following Taft's death.

"He was always a devious-looking character, sort of a seedy-looking person," said John Bloomquist, who owns Berkley Café in downtown Raleigh.

Bloomquist said Williford played in a band there and was a frequent customer.

"He had the type of personality – the kid you just don't want to be hanging out with," he said.

Williford was found guilty of felony breaking and entering in 2001 and breaking and entering in 1998. In the latter case, the homeowner says he made calls to phone-sex lines and left feces on the floor.

His musician friends have said that say he had recently been working in his home recording studio in the weeks since Taft's death and that he acted like nothing was wrong.