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A pleasant Michigan day takes a dark turn when a field hand digs up a human skull in a sprawling backyard years after year-old Harrison resident Randy Laufer vanished. The discovery leaves a tight-knit community shaken to its core and questioning whether a killer has penetrated the safety of their town. On Sept.
The two had just moved in together and everything was going well, despite the stressful divorce proceedings that Taylor was going through with her ex-husband. That day, Taylor went out with a friend, Ashley McArthur, in the hopes of relieving some of the stress, but it was a decision that proved to change not only her life, but also the lives of everyone around her.
As the day progressed, Waller lost contact with Taylor when she stopped responding to her text messages. She contacted Ashley, who said that Taylor had been stressed and crying throughout the day and needed time to herself.
Things got even more strange when Taylor seemingly bailed on dinner plans with her girlfriend, telling Waller via text that she needed a few days to clear her head. Waller knew that Taylor, as a private investigator, had the means and skills to disappear, and she grew worried.
I just know that something's not right. Taylor's loved ones were also concerned because it was out of character for her to just disappear, especially without first contacting her young son. Waller then went to the police, who suggested that she reach out to Taylor's ex-husband, Jeff Wright, to investigate further on her own. Jeff told Waller that their son had also been trying to reach out to Taylor, but he had not gotten any response. He then issued a startling warning, telling Waller that Taylor may get angry with her for involving the police in her business and that she should be careful.
Details released in murder of private investigator
Disturbed, Waller continued to search for her girlfriend and began calling hospitals in the area. They wasted no time speaking with Waller, and when her story checked out, they reached out to Ashley, who was the last person among Taylor's friends to see her before she vanished.
Speaking with the authorities, Ashley recalled that Taylor still seemed stressed at the end of their meeting and that she had gotten into an Uber to go get a drink. Even more shockingly, she said that on the day of their meeting, Taylor had picked up the money, put it in a duffel bag, and had taken it with her. Authorities reached out to Taylor's ex-husband, who lived in North Carolina, to try to get to the bottom of what was going on.
He claimed that he hadn't heard from his ex-wife since Sept. Authorities, however, focused on the fact that Jeff and Taylor were allegedly in the midst of a contentious custody battle.
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Jeff, who was in the military and had since remarried, told investigators that he was out of town when his ex-wife disappeared, and his alibi checked out. Ashley's husband, Zach McArthur, said he had no idea where Taylor had gone, and an initial search of the house yielded nothing strange.
Ashley soon dropped a bombshell on investigators, however, claiming Taylor had had an affair with a woman in another town while she was seeing Waller, and that the couple had argued about it in the past. That was enough for investigators to search Waller's residence for any s of foul play. They found Taylor's ID, passport, money, and — shockingly — a revolver that was missing a bullet. During an interview with investigators, Waller said that she had purchased the gun after Jeff told her that Taylor had gotten violent with him in the past.
While weeks passed and Taylor failed to appear, a break in the case was not made until investigators were finally granted access to Taylor's phone records. Within them, they discovered that Ashley's story of where she and Taylor had been on the day she vanished did not match up with where the phone records placed them. Authorities zeroed in on Ashley and began searching her and her husband's bank and phone records.
They soon learned that on the day that Taylor was last seen alive, Ashley had made numerous calls from another property owned by the McArthurs in a different part of town than where Ashley originally claimed to have been. While records showed that Zach was not in the area on the day of Taylor's disappearance, suspicion toward Ashley continued to grow.
Authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for three different properties owned by the McArthurs, and on the day that they planned to execute the warrants, they invited Ashley down to the station for an interview to keep her out of the way. While Ashley denied having anything to do with Taylor's disappearance, a search team combed the farm where, phone records showed, Ashley and Taylor had been together on the day that she went missing.
They initially turned up empty-handed, and investigators were forced to release Ashley. Those who continued to search the farm in question, however, soon came across a disturbing discovery: a human skull with a bullet hole.
Investigators began extracting the body and found a necklace that they had seen Taylor wearing in a photo. Around a month after her disappearance, Taylor had finally been found, and Ashley, who still denied any wrongdoing, was arrested for first-degree premeditated murder. For Taylor's loved ones, the news that she had been found dead and that Ashley — a dear friend — had been arrested for her murder was devastating.
I lost it. It was hard, it was emotional," Waller told producers. Ashley stood trial for Taylor's murder two years later, and prosecutors laid out the series of events to a packed courtroom: On Sept. It was there that Ashley shot her friend in the back of the head, prosecutors claimed, and then buried her body underneath potting soil and concrete. She then used Taylor's phone to send messages to people in order to make it look as if Taylor was still alive.
As a former crime scene technician, Ashley knew exactly how to cover her tracks. After a four-day trial, a jury found Ashley guilty, and a judge sentenced her to life in prison with a mandatory 25 years served.
We finally got the justice that Taylor deserved," Waller said. Still, the pain caused by Ashley's actions was immeasurable.
‘i never saw it coming’: young private investigator murdered by close friend after giving her $34k for safekeeping
Ashley took somebody that I loved. Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Watch the Full Episode. Missing Persons.
Buried in the Backyard.