Lakeland Woman Was Turning Her Life Around Before She Was Shot at Home
August 26, 2013
Most days Stephanie Greer knows what she’s going to hear on the other end of the line.
They don’t have any leads. They’re still working.
They haven’t forgotten.
But she still picks up the phone at least once a week and dials the familiar number – 863-834-8951. Lakeland Police Detective Brad Grice answers.
He tells her he hasn’t given up. He’s still working.
He wants to find her daughter’s killer.
Last month, Lakeland police revamped its homicide division to let Grice and Detective Scott Kercher focus their work on cold cases, and to give detectives Russ Hurley and Brian Wallace more time to work on more recent homicides.
As part of a continuing series and a partnership with the Lakeland Police Department, The Ledger is profiling many of the department’s 38 cold cases and unsolved homicides.
The detectives say they hope that with help from the community, they’ll be able to solve more of the cases. And in turn, bring support and closure to many more families like Greer.
It was just after 1 a.m. Aug. 26, 2013, when Greer got the call.
She was asleep at her home in Tampa. It was her birthday.
The voice on the other line said her daughter, 22-year-old Erin Taylor, was being rushed to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with a head injury.
It wasn’t until hours later that Greer learned Taylor had been shot. A few hours after that, she was dead.
“When they told me, they said she was just hit across the head because she had a knot,” Greer said. “I didn’t find out she had been shot until about 6 a.m. It took them hours to tell me.”
Police responded that morning about 1 to a report of an unconscious woman at the small, one-bedroom apartment at 1030 W. Walnut St. that Taylor shared with her boyfriend, Cameron Banks.
Banks told police he came home and found Taylor unresponsive in the living room.
Police didn’t discover she had been shot until she was taken to LRMC, police said.
Greer said she watched that morning as Lakeland police detectives conducted what she describes as “a poor investigation.”
She said she thinks the detectives did a poor job of questioning Banks and other possible witnesses.
“When they came to the hospital, they interviewed her boyfriend for maybe five minutes and me,” Greer said. “I don’t think they investigated or questioned enough.”
She said she calls Grice, the lead investigator assigned to her daughter’s case, at least once a week – sometimes more – to remind him that she isn’t giving up and neither should he.
And to remind him that every day she wishes they would work a little bit harder.
“I’m just baffled by it. I didn’t know anyone that hated her.”
Grice said he hasn’t been able to make any progress on Taylor’s case in months.
“We haven’t received any leads since the start of the investigation,” he said.
Greer and her family have their own ideas of what might have happened that morning.
Because Taylor was found shot in the living room, Greer said she thinks her daughter might have known the killer. Or it might have even been someone looking for her boyfriend, who police said dealt drugs.
Greer said her daughter was never in any serious trouble and wasn’t involved in drugs – or not that she knew of.
Taylor wasn’t really a “street person” and she was on the right track to making a good life for herself.
“She had just started to turn her life around,” Greer said. “Everybody loved her.”
She went back to school and got her diploma. She had a job working with Toufayan Bakeries and she was going to church, Greer said.
“She was changing her life and changing her attitude,” Greer said. “She really wanted to have kids.”
It’s been more than nine months since Taylor’s death, but Greer said she hasn’t accepted it. And she’ll never truly get over it.
“It’s affected my entire family because everybody loved her. She was just so full of life for her life to get short like that.”
Greer said she is hoping Lakeland police will work a little harder on her daughter’s case. And she doesn’t plan to stop calling Grice anytime soon.
Taylor, the light-hearted, free-spirited woman, was Greer’s only daughter. And she said she won’t be able to fully accept Taylor’s death until she knows what exactly happened that morning.
Then, Greer said, she hopes she will have some closure and be able to feel safer inside her home.
But until, she’ll keep praying that someone will come forward with more information.
“They should consider putting themselves in our shoes,” Greer said. “How would they feel if one of their family members was shot and they didn’t know who did it?”
TO OFFER INFORMATION
Anyone with information can contact Detective Grice at 863-834-8951 or Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477. Callers can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward.
Information can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Allen can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7550.