Taylor's encounters: Aquaintances recall abduction suspect as hearing looms

As accused kidnapper Randy Allen Taylor sits in jail issuing protestations of innocence through his attorney, one former friend says the 48-year-old Lovingston resident has a history of getting into trouble— and then getting out of it.

"He's a very smart individual; he knows how to play the system," says the former friend, who spoke with the Hook on condition of anonymity, and who spent time with Taylor in the late '90s and early 2000s.

After hanging out with Taylor for six months, the former friend says, it seemed to him "there was something off with Randy. Everything was always someone else's fault."

In 2004, according to Albemarle County District Court records, Taylor faced a number of charges, but despite pleading guilty to arson for the 2002 torching of a Dodge Ram conversion van, he served no time.

Also in 2004, Taylor was charged with brandishing a weapon and stalking, and an unrelated charge of curse and abuse.

"A white man driving a red Toyota followed me to the corner of Georgetown Road and Hydraulic Road then pulled a black pistol out and pointed it," wrote an Albemarle County man in an August 21, 2004, criminal complaint in Albemarle County General District Court describing an alleged encounter from the previous night. "I saw him again today," writes the man in that complaint.

Taylor, who lived on Georgetown Road at the time, was found not guilty of the charges of brandishing a weapon and stalking, and his accuser, reached by the Hook, declined comment.

Five months earlier, in March 2004, another man accused Taylor of curse and abuse, a charge that the words spoken "provoke a breach of the peace," according to the statute.

"Don't get out of the car you punk-ass motherf***er," Taylor allegedly said to the man, who was with his girlfriend at the time, according to the complaint in Albemarle County General District Court. That misdemeanor charge was dropped before prosecution.

Taylor, who was born in Pensacola, Florida, according to Albemarle district court records, had lived in New Jersey and told the former friend he didn't like going to the Garden State because  "the cops harassed him." The former friend says Taylor didn't offer more details on that alleged harassment.

In Virginia, the former friend says, Taylor enjoyed watching crime shows— 48 Hours and CSI were his favorites, says the friend— and he was also a car buff.

"He hung out with a group of guys who were really interested in cars," says the former friend, who recalls that Taylor once drove a 20-year-old Chevy Caprice. Coincidentally, that's the same model car that Taylor has described being driven by a black man whom he claims came to his camper in Lovingston along with Alexis Murphy on the evening she disappeared. Through his attorney, Taylor described the man as a drug dealer who sold him $60 of marijuana and who left the Thomas Nelson Highway property with Murphy.

The former friend isn't the only one who has less than fond memories of Taylor.

"I wouldn't let him near my home," says one resident of Eheart's Corner trailer park on Ridge Road in Orange County, where Taylor lived at the time of 19-year-old Samantha Clarke's disappearance in September 2010. Taylor confirmed to the Hook in October 2012 that he has long been a suspect in that case because he called her phone multiple times the night she vanished.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing the high profile nature of the case, recalls her former neighbor as "creepy," and says on multiple occasions he spit towards her husband and his friend out of his car window while seeming to make unfriendly remarks. 

But while she kept her distance from Taylor, particularly after witnessing law enforcement officers search his trailer during the Samantha Clarke investigation, she says his son was a frequent and welcomed guest in her home.

"He was a sweet boy, good manners, very polite," says the woman, who describes Taylor's son and her own son doing "typical boy things, playing Xbox, riding bikes."

"He loved his father," says the woman of Taylor's son.

At presstime, Taylor had not responded to the Hook's request for an interview made through Colonel Ronald Matthews, superintendent of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail.

As the investigation into the disappearance of Alexis Murphy enters its third week, various media outlets have reported on evidence recovered thus far, including the retrieval of several cell phones.

FBI spokesperson Dee Rybiski confirms the discovery of several phones and says they are undergoing forensic testing.

Investigators also appear to be looking into Taylor's claims that another man was present when he interacted with Alexis Murphy on August 3. According to Richmond television station CBS6, sometime between Friday, August 16, and Sunday, August 18, Louisa County Sheriff's Office issued a "Be on the Lookout" for a maroon Chevy with large rims like the one described by Taylor. The Sheriff's Office confirmed to the station that a vehicle matching that description was pulled over, but now say that was unrelated.

"There was nothing to it," says Louisa County Sheriff Ashland Fortune.

Rybiski says area law enforcement agencies have informally been looking for a car matching that description. "Officials have been reporting to Nelson County any that they've spotted," she says.

On Friday, August 15, Hallahan, a former police officer turned defense attorney, told Lynchburg television station WSET that his request for tips about that mystery man had resulted in 20 to 30 calls and that he had given the man's identity to investigators.

"He's a witness that I needed law enforcement to talk to," Hallahan told the station, questioning how Taylor could be charged with abduction based on a single hair— the evidence Taylor reportedly told his attorney was the basis for his arrest.

Rybiski declines comment on the man's identity, and reached by the Hook, Hallahan hung up on a reporter. A subsequent call was answered by voicemail on which Hallahan emphatically states he will not be returning media calls.

Taylor is scheduled to appear in Nelson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Thursday, August 22, for a bond hearing, and his former attorney, Adam Rhea, who successfully argued in June 2012 that charges against Taylor stemming from an April 2011 traffic stop should be tossed, says the upcoming bond hearing may be "a good bellwether of the strength of the prosecution's case."

While prosecutors typically don't reveal all the evidence they may have against a defendent during a bond hearing, Rhea, who says he has not been in contact with Taylor or Hallahan, wonders if the prosecution might feel pressure to show more of its hand.

"If they think they're about to have him released on bond, they'll proffer a little more info to the judge to keep that from happening," suggests Rhea. "If they don't proffer something to the judge, it seems to indicate that they don't have something to proffer."

–with additional reporting by Lisa Provence


Way to go, I hope this is the start. This " former friend " is very interesting. It is nice to see a real reporter digging. There is just too much out there to believe.

Good story or good start Courteney.

""there was something off with Randy. Everything was always someone else's fault."
No Sh--!

I see a gag order or a million Dolla Bond , I think they got this RAT , no need to show much in Juvinile court and he will be held for the probation violation anyway.

Hell , looking at Taylors record , for the love of GOD what does it take to be kept in jail ....

I aint buying the Taylors too smart gig , not saying he is dumb. But scooting on the petty crimes I can see , That is one thing .

Nope , I think they got Taylor red handed !


Just waiting for LE to drop the hammer.

This is the Courtney reporting I remember .

Great write-up

I have to wonder WHY this man has not been locked up years ago. Why does he keep getting his wrist slapped and then let go?? There has got to be someone who saw either his truck or her car during the time Alexis first went missing--and prior to her car being left in Charlottesville. He obviously transported her somewhere--unless he was stupid enough to leave her there on his property. Unless the FBI knows where she is--and I doubt they do--they need to give the public more information about what they do know. How can you "jog" the public's memory if you don't give us something to go on?? I don't believe his story of her leaving his house with a black man in a car with big rims for a moment. He always has someone else to blame for everything and he's always the "good" guy who's trying to warn someone that they are in danger. Give me a break. Torture the SOB until he tells where Alexis is! Has anyone thought about what he may have done to Alexis??? She was probably tortured by this sleaze-ball, so why not do the same to him? Oh! that's right---he has "rights"--we can't take those away from him! There is a young woman missing--actually TWO young women missing whom he was involved with in one way or another, and there are TWO families left wondering where their child is. Perhaps the legal system should just let him walk away again and let him abduct another young woman and perhaps this time he won't be so lucky and someone will see him do it and then we can have a trial. Is this what it's gonna take before this creep will be locked up for good?? I have NO patience for losers like Randy Allen Taylor--nor do I have anything good to say for a lawyer who says he didn't ask the creep where Alexis was--cause he doesn't want to know. Maybe, Mr. Hallahan, you don't want to know--but her family wants to know and so do thousands of us who don't even know her. Whatever happened to compassion and honesty--guess you won't find either of those traits when you're talking about a serial killer or a defense attorney.

In order to investigate a tip they must not dismiss it in the first place. Tips were called in three to the same area. Its not been responded too. Not because it wasn't called in. A girl passed the truck, called it in. Never got response so doubt she will help now. They need to work harder at taking those who saw the vehicle and called it in as first priority. It costs valuable time. So far it looks more and more like running around in circles.. Again.

"I have to wonder WHY this man has not been locked up years ago."

Just to hazard a guess, I'd say it was likely due the fact that he doesn't seem to have been convicted of most of the things he's been charged with. That sort of stuff was supposed to have been explained to you back in high school. You must have been out sick that day.

There may be more, but all we have listed above are a single guilty plea to what is probably somewhat inaccurately described as an "arson" charge. Va. code doesn't seem to consider burning a vehicle to be arson, but then I'm not an attorney and there may be something I missed in searching through the code. Since it's hard to say what law or charge the guilty plea actually pertained to, it's equally hard to say what the range of penalties might have been. It's pretty common for someone to plead guilty for a reduced sentence and he likely did just that. Many people don't end up in jail under those circumstances, especially if it's a first offense.

To sum it all up, Randy Taylor has been accused of lots of stuff, doesn't seem to have been convicted and a few people the Hook spoke to don't seem to like him. That could easily describe our Governor.

Mr. Taylor seems to be nothing more than a 'natural magnet' for suspicions. If he abducted & harmed the girl then by now some physcal evidence would've surfaced -- signs of a struggle, his DNA in her car, and so forth. Not to mention they can't find her body with all the technology available.

I really doubt that Taylor has the capability & resources to make human bodies vanish without a trace.

Umm... Maybe there is not a lot of physical evidence based on he was not arrested until 8 days after she was last seen with him. What can one do in 8 days to cover a crime? Not to mention he may have had some practice.

What was his criminal history in Fla and New Jersey?

Why is the Times Dispatch the only media outlet to report what went on on Tuesday in court, when a judge closed the hearing on Thursday, barring media?? Media hog, Mike Hallahan/Elvis look-alike, objected.

"Judge A. Ellen White signed an order closing the hearing Tuesday, citing Virginia Code section 16.1-302.

The order was signed after a conference call on Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin's motion to close the hearing. [allows for a judge to close the hearings "for good cause shown."]

Defense attorney Michael Hallahan objected to the motion."

Jagger, LE never lets people know how their tip turned out. They just collect them, prioritize them, then act of them.

I know that this will piss a lot of people off- but what if Taylor is telling the truth?? Just because he's creepy looking, and was a suspect before in another missing person's case. There've been some other missing girls reported since Taylor was locked up as well. And now someone noticed tire tracks on his property- well considering when he supposedly noticed them, the time Taylor was locked up, and the time Alexis disappeared, I don't think they are his- simply because of rain and weather we've had since then. The tire tracks shown on the news couldn't have been a week old.

I have a feeling several local law enforcement agencies are going to be scrambling to cover their butts as to why they didn't take this case more serious than they did. Looks like the only ones fighting for Clark was tiny little Orange PD. and from what I read in the paper and here, nothing happened in Orange other than that Clark left her home after several phone calls with Taylor. The daily progress released a more in depth piece about the mess of a traffic stop in Greene County.

Well noted Jim. Unfortunately it could result in the loss of a potential witness sadly enough.

Every single person who played any role in letting this garbage metasticize is complicit in his murders, all of them.

Closed hearings violate our right to know what goes on in judicial system. Where are the civil libertarians to object? They sit in gated communities, in their sensible shoes, thinking sanctimonious thoughts, seeking out new ways to ensure that failed male psychopaths kill as many women as possible.

Something's been bugging me about this, and if I get censored for saying so, then so be it.

He's white, she's black, and the last victim was white. He has no preference? If TV crime shows have taught me right, predators usually prefer their own race, or at least they have a preference.

With the Harrington abduction, he was black, she was white, but he was with his white friends. So maybe he's the muscle to abduct girls for the weaklings.

The lack of preference and inability to find the girls afterwards makes me wonder if he's doing it for someone else. That's if he's found guilty, I'm not assuming anything yet.

New Jersey -- that state came up with the Harrington case, although clearly he doesn't look like the sketch for that one.

disgusted August 21st, 2013 | 1:37pm
Closed hearings violate our right to know what goes on in judicial system.

You are just nosey. This is real life (and death), not a TV show or a movie. There is no public "right to know" during the early stages, especially when, in this case, the victim is still missing. You sound as though the police files should be open to public scrutiny.

The trial will be open to the public, not behind closed doors. That's when you get "your right to know" time.

To compare a great man like our governor to this greasy lurid little virus of a man is obscenely inane, but it shows why sickos like rat have chosen your dumb little town as a hospitable killing field.

"At presstime, Taylor had not responded to the Hook's request for an interview made through Colonel Ronald Matthews, superintendent of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail."

LOL Taylor is imagining Courteney Stuart with her "fool me once" face on. He knows he has lost his credibility with The Hook, if he ever had any in the first place.

The 1st am guarantees our right to access all hearings unless court finds compelling reasons otherwise and puts those reasons in writing. Get curious. Hearing was closed because a minor is involved. That minor is not murphy. More focused reason please, less snark.snark.

ed August 21st, 2013 | 2:22pm

The 1st am guarantees our right to access all hearings ... and puts those reasons in writing.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Exactly where in the first amendment is the "writing" that guarantees our right to attend all hearings, even those in Juvenile court???

Soooo, is that what's going on here? A network of New Jersey predators moving to Virginia because New Jersey cops were wise to them?

Lmao- This is the article Ms. Stink over at BOC called "a hack article", and claims that it is unlike Courteney to write an article with " so many people speaking on anonymity". It just goes to show you two things about that delusional pajama pants wearing blogger. One she is a HUGE hypocrite bc 90% of the topics she "blogs"- I find it hard to even call her a blogger bc I know she makes things up and puts it out on the web- ALWAYS HAVE SOURCES SPEAKING ANONYMITY, AND HAVE EMPTY PROMISES OF BREAKING NEWS COMING SOON. Two, Stink is very jelly of Courteney and her reporting bc it is quite obvious the woman can't find anything that hasn't been already reported and it's killing her inside. Although, she did make a dumb reference to the Showalter case even though Taylor was incarcerated at that time. Any idiot who disrespects the greatest heavy metal band of all-time by saying James Hetfield is Metallica's lead guitarist and forgetting about the great Kirk Hamett is a lazy blogger. The fact that after 2 years she still has that page uncorrected should show everyone what a phony she is. It can't be that difficult for a pajama pants wearer to check Wikipedia for God sake. Nice article Court!!!

Richmond Newspapers Inc v. Virginia, a 1980 us supreme ct opinion affirming that public has common law and constitutional right of access to civil and criminal proceedings and records absent compelling reasons for secrecy.

dear Lord, it's a bond hearing, not a trial hearing. Of course they want to close it to the public for various reasons. Maybe it's the evidence that they have to present- or lack thereof, if you listen to Taylor's attorney. For his sake, I hope they deny bond for the simple reason that the majority of people have forgotten that you are innocent until found guilty. They don't want it to turn into a circus and that's exactly what would happen if it were open to media and public. The guy probably won't get a fair trial in this area just because of the media coverage, and that's another thing that attorney's need to consider.

How does denying bond to Taylor remind us of the presumption of innocence? Courts don't hold or release killers to teach civics lessons to dummies. Evidence or lack of evidence is not cause to conduct secret judicial proceedings. If it were, all proceedings would be in secret. Public scrutiny of the judicial process need not be a circus if a judge is competent. The passive and weirdly incurious who refuse to assert their most basic liberties are the reason why the US government is now spying on all of us for no reason whatsoever other than possessing the technical ability to do so. After what Judge Bouton pulled in releasing Taylor instead of letting LE find Samantha Clarke, he and every judge should be carefully and constantly watched. How sweet that some in this community have such childlike faith in lawyers. Could it be that unquestioning faith in lawyers is why our judicial system is failing and why people like RAT have the easy jump on victims? If this is juvenile court, then inquiring minds should ask: Whose idea was it anyway to try a 48 year old hardened felon in a juvenile court simply because his last victim happened to be 17? Go find out, then act to change that law because it's the perp's age, not the victim's, that should determine where he's tried. Don't worry about pre-trial publicity. Most jurors are blithely impervious to the startling fact that there are at least 23 dead or missing persons just in the Lynchburg to Culpeper corridor. And if you remind them, they're likely to sigh, sneer and ask about Kim Kardashian's stretch marks. Hey, Hook, why not map (again) all the dead and missing persons along RT 29 in last 2 decades. Put the updated map of the dead and missing on every Hook cover, week after week, until every last vanished soul is found and their killer brought to justice. After we finally discover who killed the 23 victims and bring the perps to justice, then we can work up enough curiosity to discuss vineyards, breweries, gardening, gay marriage and lacrosse scores. P.S. Metallica blows, but RAT loves them, doesn't he?

Some thoughts: the Commonwealth's Attorney allegedly said they were closing the bond hearing in order to protect the possibility of a "fair trial". This makes it sound like they were protecting the Defendant's right to a fair trial, but the Defendant was objecting to closure of the hearing. So the argument for closing it was weak, and the defense objection should have undermined that argument further. Like he was saying, "Oh, you're closing it to protect me? I'm not asking you to do that. Stop trying to 'protect me' and open the bond hearing." The police seem to enjoy the momentum of public opinion in presuming Mr. Taylor's guilt, but seem concerned anytime anything might undermine that momentum. We don't know what happened in that bond hearing, but it sounds like Mr. Taylor's record was more of a focus than the facts of the current case. And Mr. Hallahan's comments afterwards make it sound like the Commonwealth did not proffer any really new information other than what we've already been told. It's a little odd that the defense immediately waived prelim, but it may put the case to the grand jury faster and start the speedy trial clock ticking faster than if they hadn't waived. Translation: Prosecutor, you need to strengthen your case QUICKLY, if you're ever going to do it all, because the clock is about to start ticking very soon. And the alarm on that clock goes off A LOT faster when you keep a guy in jail without bond than when you let him out. Which puts two questions into play at the trial: 1) did you even arrest the right person?, and 2) if so, did you arrest him too soon before you were ready to prove it?

It wouldn't matter that the defendant was trying to keep it open if they can't sit a jury. His lawyer would still object and try to move the trial.

they can move a trial OR they can bring in a jury from elsewhere, if necessary