2012 Houston County homicides: Mother looks for closure in unsolved killing

No arrests in 2 of 8 homicides in 2012 in Houston County

bpurser@macon.comJanuary 18, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Monique Crowder and boyfriend Joel Taylor were getting ready for bed Aug. 30 when there was a knock at the door.

“Give me all your stuff!” Crowder recalled intruders shouting as they forced their way into the small Warner Robins apartment. “Give me everything!”

She heard a gunshot.

From her vantage point undetected in the bedroom, the 20-year-old Crowder said she saw Taylor fall to the living room floor after being shot in the leg.

He desperately attempted to get away from the masked man with the gun by pulling his body with his arms toward the bathroom, Crowder said. The other masked intruder grabbed a large-screen TV and a PlayStation.

The man with the gun followed Taylor to the bathroom -- firing five more shots into Taylor’s chest before fleeing with the other man.

“I thought they were going to take my life, too,” Crowder said softly with her head down as she recently recounted the ordeal.

Taylor, 25, was rushed to Houston Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.

He was among eight homicide victims in Houston County in 2012. Six of the homicides, including his death, were in Warner Robins city limits, while two were in the unincorporated areas of Houston County. Centerville and Perry had none.

Taylor’s life was snuffed out just one day before his birthday. His case remains unsolved.

Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police, wrote in an e-mail that there have been no arrests, and there are no outstanding warrants related to Taylor’s killing.

Patricia Taylor, the victim’s mother, said police took all of her son’s shoes after collecting shoe print impressions outside his apartment, No. 14-A at 101 Woodcrest Circle. Investigators also gathered fingerprints from inside and carried away clothing looking for gunpowder residue.

DNA swabs were taken, and her son’s fingernails were scraped for possible forensic evidence, she said.

“I cannot rest,” said Taylor, who moved to Warner Robins from Ann Arbor, Mich., with her son four years ago. “It’s like I’m stuck. I can’t get closure.”

Taylor, 47, said the slaying of her son, who suffered from sickle cell anemia and worked at Happy Hour, doesn’t make any sense.

“He was not your typical young man,” said Taylor, a family service case manager. “He was very reserved, very considerate, very proper. ... He never liked drugs or drinking or partying and clubs.”

“He loved his books. He loved writing,” she said. “He just embraced life.”

Johnny Kirk said Joel Taylor was a regular at his house on Friday nights. His adult son, who also works at Happy Hour, and Taylor were close friends. He said Taylor was the kind of young man a father wants his son to hang around with. When Taylor started dating Crowder, she came over, too.

Joel Taylor had moved out of his mother’s home in May and into the apartment where he was killed.

“That was something he really wanted to do,” his mother said. She recalled he told her, “I want to be my own man. I want to make you proud.”

She said she suspects he also wanted to move out so Crowder could move in with him. But only three months later and on the night of his death, Patricia Taylor said her son told her on the telephone that he wanted to end the relationship but didn’t know how to go about it.

However, Crowder said she and Joel Taylor were happy together. She said they had been dating about five months, having met at Happy Hour where both had worked.

“I just want to wake up and see him again,” she said.

Valerie Lawrence, who lives in the apartment building across from where Crowder and Taylor lived, said she often saw Taylor walking to get the mail, with Crowder sitting on the front stoop waiting for his return.

“They were always together,” Lawrence said. “It seemed like they cared a lot about each other.”

Elder neglect case

Of the eight homicides in Houston County, only two did not result in an arrest. The other unresolved case is that of 90-year-old Avis Greer, a retired nursing assistant who lived on Louis Street in Warner Robins. Police have not said much about this case except that it is among the 2012 homicides.

Greer’s death April 30 at Houston Medical Center was originally classified as a natural death, said Houston County Coroner Danny Galpin. But Greer’s body was returned from the funeral home for autopsy after it was learned that Warner Robins police were conducting an investigation related to potential elder abuse, Galpin said.

The autopsy, which was finalized in August, ruled the cause of death as “complications from elder abuse” and the manner of death a homicide, Galpin said.

“Basically, neglect,” Galpin said when asked how she died.

The autopsy, which was conducted by Dr. James Whit­aker, the county’s medical examiner, found Greer had a staph infection in her skin, an infection in her mouth, a generalized infection in her blood and bed sores, Galpin said.

“It was not anything physical. ... They neglected her until she died,” Galpin said.

The case remains open, Pugh stated in an e-mail. No arrests have been made, and there are no open warrants in relation to the case, she said.

Dan Bibler, deputy chief assistant district attorney, said the case remains under review to determine whether criminal charges are warranted. He declined to elaborate.

The remaining 2012 homicide cases are pending trial, with arrests made in each. Those who have had arraignments have pled not guilty.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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