Time Can Be on Detectives' Side in Unsolved Murders


SPRINGFIELD- With time, solving a murder can become difficult.  

People move away, their memories of the event can become foggy, or changes in evidence collection and storage can make a case difficult to prosecute beyond a reasonable doubt. However, sometimes relationships and loyalties change or the guilt consumes the criminal. 

In 2004, 91-year-old Herman Taylor was found stabbed to death in his Springfield home.  He was a very well-liked man and even in his nineties he was an avid hunter fisherman and gardener. But for  years no one was arrested for his brutal death. 

In 2006, a suspect emerged. Taylor's neighbor, Sheila Morris. "She made a remark to someone in the community that she was responsible for his death," says Springfield detective Michael Flynn.  "That person came forward."

And in 2007, a major break in the case.  Morris was arrested for aggravated battery.  Having her captive in the Sangamon County jail, police questioned her for four days. 

'She ultimately admitted what she had done to Mr. Taylor," says Flynn. 'The guilt.  She was overcome with guilt."

Morris pleaded guilty to second degree murder.  

'With her, it's hard to say why it happened," Flynn says.  "It could be that she was intoxicated.  It could be that she wanted to borrow money from him."

Morris told detectives she had mistaken Taylor for her boyfriend.  Morris and her boyfriend had a volatile relationship.  Morris, sentenced to 20 years, in 2008 is set to be paroled next year. 

At the time this case was closed, Springfield had a cold case unit---a four detective team assigned solely to solving unsolved murders.  But now that unit has been disbanded and cases are assigned to detectives who are always looking for tips.  They ask that if you know anything about the city's dozens of unsolved murders to call Sangamon County crimestoppers.


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