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fingerprint specialist

Johnny Taylor, Jr.

Johnny Taylor, Jr. was a convicted murderer who was executed by electrocution at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on February 29, 1984.

Overview

On February 8, 1980 the victim, David Vogler, received a telephone call around 8:45 p.m. from a black male about an automobile which Vogler had placed for sale in the parking lot of Barker's in Kenner, Louisiana. Vogler left his home in his Cadillac to show the red 1976 Buick Regal to the inquirer. He was not seen alive again by Mrs. Vogler. Around 12:45 a.m. Mrs. Vogler went to the parking lot in search of her husband along with her sister and her sister's boyfriend. The red Buick was missing; the Cadillac was parked in the lot. Mrs. Vogler looked in the Cadillac window and saw her husband's coat on the front seat. She saw two police cars stopped in the lot and asked the officers if they had seen the Buick. They assured her that they would be on the look out for it. Mrs. Vogler then returned to her mother's house where she spent the night. At 9:00 o'clock the next morning she returned to the parking lot with her brother-in-law, Larry Huesman. Huesman looked inside the Cadillac and saw blood on the upholstery. Fearing foul play, Huesman dropped Mrs. Vogler off and called the police. He met Officer Averett back at the parking lot and gave the officer Mrs. Vogler's extra set of keys. When Officer Averett opened the trunk, he saw the body of David Vogler. An autopsy revealed that David Vogler died from multiple stab wounds.

Investigation

Detectives William Fayard and Nick Congemi of the Kenner Police Department conducted an investigation. Customers and employees of the nearby businesses were interviewed with no success. Due to the rainy weather on the night of February 8 and the morning of the 9th, the car was towed to a security garage to dry out. On February 10 technician Joseph Deidrich dusted the car for latent fingerprints. Black hairs were recovered from the ceiling of the automobile, the sun visors and the inside trunk ledge. Deidrich also vacuumed the vehicle to collect debris.

On June 14, 1980 Chief Jimmy Acton stopped the accused in Millry, Alabama for a traffic violation. He was driving the Buick Regal. His cousin, Samuel Young, and his girl friend, Linda Pugh, were with him. A check on the automobile indicated that it was stolen and that the occupants might have been involved in a murder in Kenner, Louisiana. Defendant fled from the officer under the pretext of needing to urinate; his companions were arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. On June 15, 1980 Detectives Fayard and Congemi drove to Millry and interviewed Young and Pugh. They compared the Vehicle Identification Number on the automobile to the number of the vehicle registration form to determine that this vehicle was the one stolen from the Voglers. The detectives opened the trunk and found receipts dated March 16, 1980 and May 3, 1980 bearing the name “James Taylor” for body work done on the Buick at Terry's Body Shop. Congemi and Fayard drove to Pritchard, Alabama and questioned Terry Webb, the owner of the repair garage. Webb gave them his copy of an estimate sheet dated February 9, 1980 which itemized repairs to be done to the car and a paint job requested by Taylor. The Buick was driven back to Kenner, Louisiana.

Arrest

Taylor was subsequently arrested on June 17, 1980 for an unrelated auto theft and incarcerated in Butler, Alabama. Detectives Fayard and Congemi drove to Butler on June 18 to question Taylor. Two statements were given by Taylor; neither statement satisfactorily explained how the accused came into possession of the Buick Regal. Eddie Slayton of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation took defendant's finger and palm prints and gave them to Detective Fayard. These prints, along with those taken from the Cadillac, were sent to the FBI by registered mail on June 23, 1980. Ronald Young, a latent fingerprint specialist with the FBI, compared the two sets of prints and concluded that Taylor's left palm print matched the partial palm print from the outside trunk lid based on forty points of identification. Samples of head hair taken from defendant during the interview showed similar characteristics to the hairs found in the Cadillac.

A warrant for defendant's arrest was executed on June 17, 1980. A copy of the warrant was given to the authorities in Alabama. Taylor was indicted on August 28, 1980 and subsequently extradited to Louisiana.

Trial

Taylor was found guilty as charged by a jury. The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty finding two aggravating circumstances: (1) the accused was engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of armed robbery at the time he killed the victim; (2) the offense was committed in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manner.

Execution

Taylor was executed on February 29, 1984. He last words were "I've done a lot of wrong, caused a lot of hurt. I guess this is the price I pay for it. I found God in Christ. I made a commitment with him. I'm ready to see this through. There are those out there who need help. I wish in some way you could all contribute to helping them. Living has been hard for me and its (sic) time for me to die, for whatever reason . . . . I hope you will not leave with the sense this is going to deter crime. That's it, let's go."

Sources

  • State v. Taylor, 422 So.2d 109 (La.,1982.

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