Decades old murder case yields new leads

Published: Oct. 24, 2011 at 12:34 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2011 at 3:56 AM CDT
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Sherri Taylor, center, smiles with friends
Sherri Taylor, center, smiles with friends

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Sherri Taylor, 15, was described as a fun loving and happy teen.  On July 11, 1978, just three weeks before her sweet 16, Sherri's young life came to a violent end.

"It was a brutal murder. She had been stabbed several times. The autopsy report shows that she had been sexually assaulted. Semen was covered all over her body," said Investigator Michael Brown of the Biloxi Police Department.

According to police reports, her father discovered her body when he returned home from work.  Sherri had been stabbed in the chest and face, and strangled with a jump rope.

Initial reports showed there was no forced entry into the trailer where she lived with her father.

"There was an arrest made back then at the time of a 16 year old male that had done some maintenance work at the trailer park. That case had been presented to a grand jury and they ruled there had not been enough evidence to make an arrest," said Brown.

From there, the case seemed to go cold.  More than three decades later, Biloxi Police took a fresh look.

They started over with the case, interviewing witnesses, and sent DNA evidence to a private lab with technology beyond the ability of investigators of the time.

"You want start fresh like you're starting a new murder case or any other case we work," said Brown. "You want start by interviewing people who were around at that time. That's been the biggest problem with this case because it's so old."

Many of the witnesses had moved or passed away, but police have been able to find new leads.  Investigators also expect the results from the new testing soon.

Most importantly, police have a suspect in the case.

"The hope, of course, is to make an arrest and put the guy in jail that did this. This was a teenage girl and had plenty of dreams ahead of her like most teenage girls do.  From talking to her family she was a fun loving person, a prankster just like any teenager," said Brown.

According to police, there have been around 30 cold cases in Biloxi since 1970.  Many of those cases are getting a second look.

If you have any information about this case, you are asked to contact Biloxi Police or Crime Stoppers.

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