Peter Hough

Peter Hough
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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

John Taylor - Guilty of murder...

After a month long trial, undertaker John Taylor, has been found guilty of the murder of his missing wife, Alethea.

Readers may remember my previous blog on the matter; The Search for Alethea Taylor, where I recounted how my wife and I helped look for the missing woman while we were taking a caravanning break in the north Herefordshire village of Orleton, where the couple lived.

In that original blog, of over a year ago, I was careful of what I wrote, knowing that there was the likelihood of a trial. Now that Taylor is starting a seventeen year prison sentence, I am able to add some comments.

Orleton is a small community, and most of those living there knew the couple personally. While we were out that winter's day with the villagers, combing the fields and woods for signs of Mrs Taylor, various comments were made and theories expressed as to what had happened to her. But each of these theories had their contradictions.

It was suggested the pair had rowed, and she had left him and gone to stay with a friend or distant relative. Yet her car was still on the drive, and the CCTV on the local bus didn't record her getting onboard. The favourite theory was that she had wandered off into the surrounding countryside, become disorientated and had either got lost, or had an accident.

This theory came about because according to the locals, Alethea had recently been suffering from episodes of amnesia. She would leave the house, then not recognise her surroundings, and been unable to find her way home. Apparently, on about three occasions, she had been returned to her husband after wandering off. Yet no one knew where these stories had originated, and conversely, we were told that she was an active member of the village amateur dramatic society, and was a prompter for their current play - just prior to her disappearance.

We thought at the time, if someone was planning a murder, how helpful it would be to deflect attention if it was put about that the intended victim was suffering early-onset dementia. By the time the story had travelled around the community, the originator would be forgotten.

Taylor's response to his wife's disappearance was odd too. Someone asked: 'How's John bearing up?' The reply was that he was busy with two funerals, and wasn't joining in the search because he didn't want to let the families down. Bearing in mind that on the face of it, Alethea could have fallen into a ditch and broken her leg, this was strange behaviour indeed!

Yet - the possibility that Taylor had murdered her was the elephant in the room. No one suggested it - at least to us - either during the search or in the village hall where we had refreshments - but it was high up on our list.

The contradictions and Taylor's behaviour all pointed in that direction. It's hard to think the worst of people whom you know, and courteous perhaps not to voice your suspicions in public. Yet I believe many of the villagers were genuinely shocked when police arrested Taylor and charged him with murder.

To date, Mrs Taylor's remains have not been discovered - and Taylor isn't saying how he disposed of them. I hope they are found, so the relatives and friends of Alethea can find some degree of closure.

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