TERRE HAUTE, Indiana — An Indiana man who was imprisoned for more than 25 years for killing his second wife now faces charges in the death of his first wife following a new investigation aided by a television show that specializes in unsolved criminal cases.
Earl Leslie Taylor, 62, of Terre Haute was arrested Tuesday in the 1975 death of his first wife, Kathy Taylor, after local investigators, working with the TNT show "Cold Justice," re-interviewed witnesses and investigators from nearly 40 years ago. It's the show's second Vigo County cold case that has led to an arrest.
Investigators had never been able to file charges in Kathy Taylor's death despite concerns over her husband's alibi and evidence suggesting she may have been killed.
The Tribune-Star reported that Kathy Taylor, who was 23 when she died, appeared to have been electrocuted in her bathtub after a clock radio fell into the water. But Chief Deputy Clark Cottom said the power cord on the clock radio had been altered to make it longer and noted that the original cord wasn't long enough to reach the tub.
Cottom said Kathy Taylor had planned to divorce her husband because he was having an affair. Police also discovered that Earl Taylor had taken out five life insurance policies on his wife without her knowledge.
"When told of the insurance policies," Cottom said in a statement, "Kathy reportedly told the insurance representative that she feared her husband was going to kill her."
Despite the lack of charges, investigators' suspicions remained.
The Indianapolis Star reported that when Earl Taylor went to remarry, a representative from the same insurance company contacted bride-to-be Mindy Svadeba, of Terre Haute, to share the details of Kathy Taylor's death and warn her that she also could be in danger.
In October 1987, Mindy Taylor's body was found in her car, submerged in a pond. Her husband told detectives that he and his wife had gone for a drive and that she swerved to avoid a raccoon and went into the water.
An autopsy revealed that she died of drowning.
Investigators found several inconsistencies between Taylor's story and the evidence at the scene. Though Mindy Taylor's body was in the driver's seat, the seat was too far back for her feet to reach the gas pedal. Also, her seat belt was buckled into the passenger side.
Prosecutors said Taylor had taken out life insurance policies valued at more than $600,000 on his wife without her knowledge.
Taylor was sentenced to 60 years in Mindy Taylor's death. He was released in January.