Neighbors still reeling from murder of teen

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2010



LAPLACE – As the investigation into the brutal beating death of 15-year-old Taylor Adams moves forward this week, friends and neighbors continue to mourn the loss of the LaPlace teen, who was often described as outgoing and sweet.

As of Tuesday morning, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s detectives have not officially determined a motive and have no suspects in the slaying, which occurred early Sunday morning inside Adams’ home in the 2500 block of Yorktowne Drive.

Sheriff Wayne Jones said deputies have scoured the neighborhood to talk with neighbors, while detectives looked into Adams’ Facebook account for potential clues.

“There are still many things to track down and look into,” Jones said. “It is a hot button case, and we have a few leads, but nothing we are prepared to release just yet.”

According to the initial release from the Sheriff’s Office, Adams’ mother was returning home from work early Sunday morning when she found her daughter lifeless and covered in blood inside their home. The mother called 911, and deputies arrived just after 6:30 a.m., said Capt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.

Clement said evidence at the scene indicated the victim sustained “blunt force trauma to the head.” He said detectives suspect the incident took place sometime after 1 a.m. Sunday, but he would not say what evidence led investigators to that conclusion.

Clement said Adams’ mother Gaylyn told deputies she had not seen or spoken to her daughter since 9 p.m. Saturday. Gaylyn Adams had been working a 12-hour shift as a security guard, and she expected her daughter to be home by herself. Detectives said there were no signs of forced entry to the home.

Preliminary autopsy results released Monday confirmed that Adams’ cause of death was multiple severe and forceful blows to the head with what could have been a large blunt object like a frying pan. No evidence of any object was found at the scene, detectives said.

Dr. Christy Montegut, coroner for St. John Parish, said Adams suffered a fractured skull and jaw. It also indicated that Adams experienced severe bleeding and bruises on the brain.

The brutal killing sent shockwaves throughout the secluded LaPlace community where the Adams’ reside. Many neighbors mulling about the neighborhood Monday still appeared shaken by the gruesome discovery.

“Something so tragic and so close comes as a big shock to all of us,” said Dejeanne Cornish, the Adams’ next-door neighbor. “She was a very sweet girl who always came out to play with the kids here.”

Mary Fortado, who lives a few houses down from the Adams’, said the mom and daughter often kept to themselves, but both were very kind when they were out in the neighborhood.

“She was just like any teenager whenever we saw her,” Fortado said. “She would talk on her phone and have other friends over. I just can’t imagine why anyone would want to do this to her.”

Albert Sheppard, whose mother lives across the street from the home, said he could remember Adams running around in diapers.

“I’ve known her since her mother was carrying her,” Sheppard said. “She always talked to neighbors and often babysat some of the kids. She never appeared to be anything other than a regular teen. I can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt her so bad.”

Sheppard, along with others in the neighborhood, continued to have trouble coming to grips with the incident. He said the neighborhood is not known for severe violent crime.

“Nothing like this has ever happened out here,” Sheppard said. “It is a quiet neighborhood. I think we are all still pretty shocked and scared.”

Meanwhile at Riverside Academy in Reserve, where Adams attended classes as a sophomore, Principal Perry DiCarlo said an assembly was held for the high school students where they were briefed on the facts of the case. He said the mood among teachers and students was somber.

“It was pretty quiet in that gym for a cold Monday,” DiCarlo said. “I think many were still coming to terms with what happened.”

DiCarlo said it was important to get the facts out to the students. He said school administrators stressed to the 315 high school students in attendance that they should not relay rumors and hearsay when talking about the incident.

“Incorrect information can spread so quickly over Facebook and other Internet sites,” DiCarlo said. “We think they have enough trust in us that we are telling them everything we know.”

DiCarlo said teachers and students often described Adams as “a beautiful student who was compassionate and generous.” He said Adams was not well known throughout the school, but the students in her class knew who she was.

“She had just returned to Riverside after leaving a few years ago,” DiCarlo said. “Our school is very close knit, so many students rely on others for support.”

DiCarlo said the school called in three grief counselors Monday in addition to the school’s regular counselor to offer support throughout the day. He said more than 100 students and teachers sought help to cope with their feelings.

The school is looking to honor Adams, but no memorial has been planned as of yet.

Meanwhile, the sheriff reiterated Tuesday that investigators do not believe Adams’ death is tied to the death of 19-year-old LaPlace nursing student Courtney Carroll, whose body was found in a drainage canal several blocks from Adams’ home in late September.

Carroll was reported missing Sept. 29 after she did not return from a jog near her Greenwood Drive home. Her body was found the next morning lying in the Vicknair drainage canal, which runs parallel to both Greenwood and Yorktowne drives.

Jones said the toxicology report on Carroll revealed she died from an accidental drug overdose and that there is no link in the two cases.

“I understand that this is something the neighborhood has questioned, but there is just no common bond,” Jones said. “One was an accident, and the other is a homicide. We want to ensure that there is no reason to believe there is any sort of serial killer on the loose. With that said we are working hard to find those responsible for this young girl’s untimely death.”

Jones said deputy patrols have been increased in the area to ease some concerns from residents while the investigation moves forward. He said anyone with any information regarding Adams’ death should contact Detective Jerry Fountain at 985-652-6338 or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.