Man charged with a second wife’s murder


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – For the second time in 2014, Vigo County detectives have solved a cold case murder.  This one is from 1975.

Kathy Dean Taylor was found dead by her husband, Earl Taylor, in her bathtub.  Earl said a clock radio fell in the water but police say the evidence proved otherwise.

Days before her death, Kathy Taylor found out a few things about her estranged husband, Earl.

Court documents say he was having an affair and Farm Bureau Insurance fired him.  And speaking of insurance, the company reported earl took out five life insurance policies in Kathy’s name without her consent.

He was the sole beneficiary. Kathy Taylor died on April 2, 1975.

“As we reviewed it, we seen some things that, wow, there was more that what we thought was necessary to file, and we thought we could add more pieces to the puzzle so we could present it to the prosecutor’s office and get charges filed this time,” said Captain John Moats of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.

Tom Roberts was the lead detective in the case.  He said it was unusual that Earl Taylor had a minute-by-minute alibi.  He also said Taylor showed no remorse in his wife’s death.

Taylor said an electric clock radio somehow landed into his wife’s bathwater, and he removed her from the tub.  Roberts said things about Taylor’s story never added up, but charges were never filed.

“Yes, it was very frustrating,” Roberts recalled.  “We couldn’t understand all of the procedures, apparently, that the law provided, and at the time we didn’t know why charges were not filed.”

Taylor’s clock radio had a cord that wasn’t factory-issued: It was about four feet longer.  But a review of autopsy photos by Dr. Roland Kohr showed him Kathy wasn’t electrocuted.  Her lungs took on water, and her body had injuries consistent with drowning.

If Earl Taylor’s name sounds familiar, he was convicted in the 1987 murder of his second wife, Mindy Svadeba.

Her body was recovered from inside her Pontiac Fiero, which was driven into a pond near Deming Park.  Earl Taylor managed to escape from this car.  Mindy drowned, and police say Taylor had $600,000 worth of life insurance on her.

Earl Taylor was released from prison in January of this year.  Sheriff’s detectives, knowing they had a good case against him, turned once again to TNT’s “Cold Justice”, who provided the resources they needed to get their man… again.

And police had even more reason to try to solve this case… Kathy Dean Taylor’s mother and sister… and their long wait of almost 40 years.

“It just gives you that much more thrust to go even farther and work even harder and dig a little bit deeper,” said Sheriff Greg Ewing.

Vigo County detectives teamed with “Cold Justice” and arrested Clinton Mackey for the 1996 murder of Erika Case.  His case is pending.  The “Cold Justice” episode on the Kathy Dean Taylor murder will air Aug. 15.

Earl Taylor will return to court Wednesday morning.

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