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cold justice

'Cold Justice' recap: Kathy Taylor

Season 2 | Episode 8 | “Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice?” | Aired Aug 15, 2014

Kelly and Yolanda return to Vigo County, Indiana, to investigate a 39-year-old cold case, which is the oldest case they’ve worked to date.

On April 2, 1975, Earl Taylor found his wife, 23-year-old Kathy, dead in the bathtub of an apparent electrocution from a clock radio. There were factors that led the family and police to believe that Earl may have been involved, but they had insufficient evidence at the time. Additionally, Earl says that Kathy had terminal cancer, so it may have been a suicide.

Given the age of the case and the lack of any physical evidence, Yolanda and Kelly have their work cut out for them, but they’re determined to get justice for Kathy.

Kelly and Yolanda helped Vigo County Sheriff’s Office Captain John Moats and Detective Eric Fell in the investigation of the 1998 murder of Erika Case last season, and they’re back to meet with both again. Investigator Steve Spingola returns as well, and the team quickly falls back into a smooth rhythm to discuss the case.

Earl says he came home on the afternoon of April 2, 1975, and found Kathy in the bathtub with a clock radio between her lower legs and still plugged into the wall. He then said he unplugged the clock, pulled it out of the tub, drained the tub, took Kathy out, laid her on the floor and covered her with a blanket. He then called his father, who went to City Hall and asked them to call the police.

Time to put Earl on the board as a suspect. Here’s what we know:

According to Kathy’s family, Kathy was planning to divorce Earl because he was seeing other women—specifically, a woman named Sue. He also had numerous insurance policies on her, which might be explainable because he was an insurance salesman, but they had a double-indemnity clause that doubled the payout in the case of an accident. What confuses that theory is that Earl told people she had terminal cancer; if it was suicide, the insurance wouldn’t have been paid.

It also turns out that Earl was just released from prison after getting 60 years for killing his second wife. For a life-insurance payout.

But there’s another roadblock, which causes Kelly to swear, “God-dog-it”: A large portion of the original witnesses have passed away. Could it be too late to solve this?

Kelly and Yolanda drive over to meet up with Kathy’s mother, Maxine, and her sister, Bonnie. Both have so much love for her and so many good memories. They both say that Kathy was healthy, and they’ve never heard anything about cancer. They saw her the weekend before she died, and she was done with the marriage. Both of them didn’t want her to go back to Earl, and they had a terrible feeling about letting her go back.

While Earl’s previous murder conviction can’t be used in court, his pattern of behavior is important, so their next stop is to visit the sister of Earl’s second wife, Mindy Taylor. According to her, Earl had convinced Mindy that he was being harassed by the police and had nothing to do with Kathy’s death. But the more we hear, the more we see some similarities. Kathy and Mindy were very similar in appearance and temperament. Mindy’s family saw her with bruises. Her mother begged her to leave him, but she didn’t because of the kids.

The team meets with retired homicide investigator Tom Roberts, who spoke with Earl the day they found Kathy. He said Earl was very calm. He had no real reaction to his wife’s death. Earl later told him that the night before she died, one of Kathy’s neighbors called to speak with Kathy, and he told her Kathy was in the tub. Kelly wonders why Kathy would have taken a bath the night before and then again in the morning?

They talk to another officer, who tells them that Earl said Kathy was still in bed when he left. Also of note: Earl had an exact time for everywhere he was that day. He went to 14 different places and had exact times when he arrived and left. As Yolanda says, “Either Earl’s a robot, or he was overly prepared to explain his whereabouts.”

When they talk to Kathy’s neighbor, there’s a different story. She says she saw Earl come how around 10 a.m. She also says she thinks this is one of those cases where somebody got away with murder.

The next person they talk to is Earl’s ex-girlfriend, Sue. We find out that Sue had no idea that Earl was even seeing Kathy, and she found out because he told her on the day of his wedding rehearsal. Sue even sent Kathy a letter to let her know that Earl had lied, and mentioned in the letter that he said he’d take out more insurance on Kathy before “something happened to her.” Wow, what a guy!

How has this case gone unsolved all this time?

They also talk to Earl’s old boss at the insurance company. He says that Earl had gotten insurance on Kathy in her name through the mail and forged her signature on the policies. When he called Kathy and met with her to show her the policies, Kathy actually said, “I think he’s planning on bumping me off.”

So far they have a lot of proof of a scam, but they need to get more information on how Kathy died. They meet with former Vigo County coroner Dr. Roland Kohr. He tells them that Kathy had a lot of fluid in her lungs, which is inconsistent with electrocution. Electrocution would have stopped her heart, so she wouldn’t have breathed in water. Bruises found on the body also suggest drowning. Her stomach contents and the advanced rigor mortis of her body suggest she died in the evening and not the morning.

When you go back to Earl’s story that she took a bath the night before, it’s looking more and more like she died that night instead of the next day.

They also found no evidence of cancer in her body.

Earl is a liar, plain and simple.

That means it’s time to look at the other physical evidence from the scene to see if they can find anything to support the electrocution theory, or find evidence of Earl’s involvement. One thing they find is that the cord on the radio was longer than manufacturer specs and was likely replaced.

They then go to the house Kathy lived in, and the bathroom is almost exactly the same. Given the distance from the outlet to the tub, we can see why the longer cord would have been a clue. The longer cord allows the radio to be plugged in and still reach the bottom of the tub. However, there’s no logical reason for the radio to have been on the edge of the tub, considering how close the counter was.

But the real aha moment comes when Yolanda gets in the tub and they try to reenact their theory of the crime. If Earl had pushed Kathy under the water and pressed her face to the side, it would explain all of the bruises the coroner found and the water in her lungs.

It’s looking more and more like Earl Taylor drowned Kathy the night before he reported finding her, then dropped the radio in the tub to make it look like an accident.

Now it’s time to talk to Earl.

But Earl is not in the mood to talk. The second he hears it’s about Kathy, he says he has no comment and ends the interview.

But Kelly says it’s OK. She doesn’t need him to say a word. In her opinion, they can make this case on the evidence they’ve found, and she is ready to take this guy down.

The D.A. agrees, and they go out and arrest Earl Taylor right away.

Everyone is all smiles as they go see Kathy’s mother and sister and give them the news. Earl Taylor is going away for a very long time, and it’s hugs and happy tears all around.

That’s it for season 2. Season 3 of Cold Justice starts in January 2015. Hope to see you then!

Cold Justice on TNT

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