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Funeral Services Held Saturday For Kathy Taft

Funeral Services for Kathy Taft took place Saturday afternoon at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville.

A church official says over 700 people were on hand to attend including Governor Beverly Perdue.

The services went on for about an hour and a half. A reception was held for the Taft family right after the internment of her ashes.

"I've lost my biggest fan," says Thomas Taft her son. "She was my invincible advocate. Personification, undying love and ever lasting support. Even when I knew I least deserved it she was always there."

Taft's daughter Paige Fuqua said, "I thank God for the gift of my mother." Fuqua went on to say,"she would be thrilled to see so many family, friends and dignitaries gathered together."

Taft was killed in Raleigh while staying at a friends house last week. Police have not released many details.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ordered that the records remain secret to protect the criminal investigation into her death.

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Kathy Taft will be laid to rest today.

The funeral is at 3:00 p.m. at St. Paul's in Greenville.

Friday night, her family received friends at Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville.

Friends and family kept the parking lot of Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville full as they paid their respects to Taft's family.

Taft, a state board of education member, died March 9, several days after a brutal assault in Raleigh.

Taft was a strong advocate of Pitt County Schools and a former graduate of East Carolina University. ECU's student government treasurer, Tremayne Smith, was on hand Friday night to pay his respects.

Kathy Taft was 62.


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A North Carolina judge has denied a request by media outlets to unseal information about an investigation into the fatal assault of a longtime state Board of Education member.

Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ordered that the records remain secret to protect the criminal investigation into the death of Kathy Taft.

Media outlets including The News & Observer of Raleigh, Capitol Broadcasting Co. and The Associated Press had asked that the judge order the release of 911 records and police documents.

The 62-year-old Taft died Tuesday from injuries she suffered in a weekend assault at the Raleigh home of her boyfriend, where she had been staying. The boyfriend was in Florida at the time.

Taft has been on the board since 1995.

The 62-year-old Taft's funeral will be at 3:00 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville. The family is receiving friends at Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville on Friday night from 6:00 pm. to 8:00 p.m.


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Raleigh's police chief spoke with the media about the murder case of Kathy Taft.

Chief Harry Dolan spoke for a few moments Thursday afternoon and then took questions from the media.

WITN streamed the statement and questions live and will shortly post a clip of the session.

The chief talked about how some information is not being released because it could impact the case.

Dolan said they can not rule out this was a random act. He said citizens should report all issues to police.

Dolan said his department needs time to do its job, to do a thorough and comprehensive investigation. He talked about protecting the integrity of the investigation.

"The family is counting on us, the community is counting on us," Dolan said.

Dolan also commented on the information age and how the quick dissemination of information can cause issues, and how it has increased the public's desire to know information immediately.

When asked about Taft's injuries, Dolan said he could not describe the extent of her injuries.

Dolan stated forensic work is still being done, and detectives are still on the crime scene.

A reporter asked "Based on the crime scene... what kind of person should the people of Raleigh be looking out for?"

Dolan replied that it is critical people avoid speculation. He said there is no single type of person to look for, and if there was, he would have already provided that information.

WITN News had a reporter at the Raleigh Police Department and will bring you his report on WITN News at 6:00.


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There are reports that Kathy Taft's sister at first thought her injuries were due to complications from a medical procedure done the day before.

Multiple media outlets in Raleigh say sources have told them Taft's sister called paramedics Saturday morning. The Greenville woman was assaulted at a friend's home in Raleigh and died Tuesday.

Taft, according to the reports, was taken to WakeMed and examined by the doctor who did the procedure. That doctor realized the woman had been attacked and notified police.

Raleigh police have been extremely tight-lipped on any details surrounding Taft's attack. In fact, Wednesday a Wake County judge ordered the 911 call and other public documents sealed in the case at the request of the district attorney.

Taft, a member of the State Board of Education, will be buried on Saturday in Greenville.


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A Wake County judge has sealed public documents in the Kathy Taft murder case.

Wake County District Attorney Colin Willoughby obtained the orders Wednesday. Those documents include the search warrants and the 911 tapes.

Meanwhile, Raleigh police say they're investigating an attempted home burglary that happened near the home where Taft was murdered.

Taft, who lived in Greenville, was a member of the State Board of Education. She was found assaulted Saturday morning at a home on Cartier Drive in Raleigh.

Police Wednesday said they are working to determine whether that attempted break-in might be related to the Taft homicide case.

WITN News has learned that attempted break-in happened on the same time frame Taft was attacked, and on an adjacent street.

The 62-year-old Taft's funeral will be at 3:00 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville. Visitation will be at Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville on Friday night from 6:00 pm. to 8:00 p.m.

The 62-year-old Taft, who lived in Greenville, died Tuesday at WakeMed.


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The family of Kathy Taft says the State Board of Education member has died at WakeMed.

The hospital released the statement shortly before 1:00 p.m. on behalf of the family.

Earlier today, the family and Raleigh police reported Taft had died, but retracted that statement minutes later.

Raleigh police say Taft died shortly after noon and their case has now turned into a murder investigation.

Taft was assaulted at a home on Cartier Drive, according to Raleigh police. Police were notified of the attack Saturday morning.

WRAL.com is citing a close family friend as saying Taft had a "minor surgical procedure" and was at the Raleigh house with her sister. The website says the friend reports Taft and her sister had planned to go to breakfast Saturday morning, and the sister went to Taft's bedroom that morning and found her.

The family says Taft's Episcopalian priest and friend administered Last Rites to her at her bedside in the presence of her family. "Normally I'm very sensitive, I'm supposed to be a servant and supposed to let others lead the way, but Kathy's daughters asked if I wanted to spend some personal time with Kathy at her bedside and it gave me a chance just to have a quiet moment to offer some personal prayers before leading the family in prayer." said Father Bob Hudak of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Governor Beverly Perdue said she knew Taft as a dear friend for more than 25 years. “The kindness she showed me, as a fellow woman from down east working to make a difference, is something I will never forget. Her passion for education and for finding every opportunity to better serve North Carolina’s children has clearly made this state a better place to live and raise a family. For that, we all owe Kathy a debt of gratitude. I will miss her terribly,” said the governor.

The family is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for her murder. A memorial service will be held Sunday at St. Paul's, but a time not been finalized.


Family Statement

Tuesday, March 9, Raleigh, NC. – Kathy Taft, mother of four, grandmother of five, and who had countless friends across North Carolina, passed away peacefully early this afternoon. She was surrounded by her family, including her daughters Jessica and Paige, sons Thomas and Jonathan, sister and brother Dina and Hoyt, and friends while at WakeMed. She was 62 years old. Her Episcopal Priest and dear friend administered Last Rites at her bedside in the presence of her family.

Kathy loved life, her family, her friends and her many public service endeavors. She would want her colleagues and friends to redouble their efforts in those good works.

The family acknowledges and appreciates the many expressions of support and love.

The exhaustive and far-reaching investigation of the City of Raleigh Police Department, including the Homicide Division and Special Crimes Division, is proceeding with the full support and confidence of the family. The family will leave comments about the investigation to the authorities.

The family embraces and supports Kathy’s long time friend, John Geil, at whose house this vicious act took place while he was in Florida. John has been with the family throughout this tragic ordeal.

Arrangements are incomplete at this time.

The family has announced a $25,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of this senseless crime. Anyone with information that might help police detectives is asked to call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.


Statement from State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison

*I am greatly saddened to hear the news that long-time State Board of Education member and friend Kathy Taft passed away today. Ms. Taft has been an instrumental member of the State Board of Education for 15 years and a stalwart supporter of the 1.5 million public school students in our state. Ms. Taft*s service to the Board and to the citizens of North Carolina has included many important milestones such as the state*s initial accountability model for schools, the development of charter schools and current efforts to ensure that our state prepares students for the 21st century."

"Our Board and our state are diminished by the untimely death of this dedicated citizen."


Statement by State Superintendent June Atkinson

*My heart is saddened by the death of State Board of Education member Kathy Taft. Ms. Taft devoted her life to improving educational opportunities for North Carolina*s public school children. She was tireless in her duties on the Board and often represented the Board at the national, state and local levels. She was a strong advocate for high academic standards, strong services for gifted children and raising the educational standards for our state."

"Ms. Taft had a heart devoted to children and their best interests. We will miss her and will carry on her goal of ensuring that all children have the opportunities they need for success."



Pitt County Schools Statement

Pitt County Schools Mourns the Loss of Kathy Taft …

Ms. Kathy Arnold Taft was a member of the Pitt County Board of Education from December 3, 1990 until December 2, 1996. Even prior to joining the Pitt County Board of Education, Ms. Taft was deeply involved in Pitt County Schools’ activities as a parent, volunteer, PTA member, teacher substitute, and as a parent and student advocate. She served as Vice-Chair of the Pitt County Board of Education from December 1993 until December 1994 and chaired numerous Board committees during her six year term.

Ms. Taft demonstrated her commitment to improving public education on many levels in Pitt County including involvement with Parents for Public Schools, Parents for theAdvancement of Gifted Education, Advisory Council for Students with Exceptionalities, Pitt County Boys and Girls Club, Smart Start, Communities In Schools, and Partnership for Education. She was also a past member of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Governor’s School.

Currently in her second term with the North Carolina State Board of Education, Ms. Taft was also actively involved in the North Carolina Public School Forum, the State Board’s Compliance Commission for Accountability, and the Globally Competitive Students Committee.

Dr. Beverly Reep, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools, expressed her concern for Ms. Taft‘s family and friends in their personal loss. She said, “The educational community has also lost a true friend. Kathy remained steadfastly loyal in her commitment to improving educational opportunities for the students in Pitt County and throughout the state. She was never afraid to tackle the tough issues and she challenged all of those with whom she worked to keep their attentions focused clearly on what was best for the
children. She was our ‘go-to’ person and she never failed to listen and respond. Words cannot express how much she will be missed by all of us in the education community.”


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The family of Kathy Taft says they erroneously reported her death this morning.

A family spokeswoman says the news release reporting Kathy Taft's death was sent out in error just before 11:00 a.m. Minutes later Raleigh police sent out a similar email reporting her death. Then about 12 minutes later police retracted that information.

The family spokeswoman says Taft remains on life support at Wake Med.


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Friends tell WITN News that State Board of Education member Kathy Taft is on life support at a Raleigh hospital after being attacked this past weekend.

Taft, who lives in Greenville, was assaulted at a home on Cartier Drive, according to Raleigh police. Police were notified of the attack Saturday morning.

Late Monday police reopened the street, though police patrols are still evident in the north Raleigh neighborhood that's off of Glenwood Avenue.

Police have been extremely tight-lipped and have released very few details about Taft's attack.

While the investigation continues, friends of Taft's in Greenville are still in shock. Betsy Leech says her heart stopped when she found out Taft was brutally attacked. "Oh my God, oh my God. It's just unbelievable. Oh my God."

Leech says many people she talked with are stunned. They're also concerned about the seriousness of Taft's injuries. "We genuinely want, want the best for her. That we can get her to move on and I'm sorry to say, I'm not sure that's going to happen."

Jim Sughue, Public Information Officer for the Raleigh Police Department, said Monday morning that officers continue to secure the crime scene on Cartier Drive in Raleigh.

Police say at this point, the investigation has not determined whether or not the assault was a random act.

Taft was seriously injured this weekend when she was assaulted at the home on Cartier Drive. Wake Med officials are not releasing any information on Taft's condition, while friends tell WITN that she was critically injured.

Public records show the house where the attack happened is owned by John Geil, an attorney in the Raleigh area. The 911 log over the past year doesn't show any prior calls to that house. Police say there were 10 calls to the neighborhood, but nothing serious.

Taft was former co-chair of the Pitt County Board of Education, having been elected to a six year term in 1990. Monday Pitt County Schools issued a statement on her attack. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Kathy Taft and her family at this time. She has always been a strong supporter and advocate for our school district, as well as others across the state."



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The Raleigh Police Department issued a statement saying they are continuing to investigate the assault of Kathy Taft.

Police say at this point they have not determined whether or not the assault, which happened at 2710 Cartier Drive, was a random act.

The police department was seen going door to door asking residents if they had heard anything suspicious.

Police have released few details as to what happened to Taft and Wake Medical Center has not given any indication of her condition.

Neighbor's of Taft's Greenville home say they are surprised by the news.

Mary Mcconnell who lives right next door said, "We are all just devastated, shocked, saddened. Personally we all feel violated."

Mcconnell says she would often see Taft out jogging or washing her car even offering to do Mcconell's car if she left it out.

"She championed education. Loved to be involved with children," said Mcconnel. "She did a lot for the people of Eastern Carolina."


Police News Release

The Raleigh Police Department continues to investigate the assault of Kathy Taft that resulted in serious injury. At this point, the investigation has not determined whether or not the assault, which occurred at 2710 Cartier Drive, was a random act. The department is reminding the public to remain alert and is asking residents to report any suspicious activity by immediately calling 911. Police patrols have been increased in the area.

Anyone with information pertaining to the assault of Kathy Taft, or anyone who believes they may have seen or heard anything unusual in or near the 2700 block of Cartier Drive between Friday night and Saturday morning, is asked to call Raleigh CrimeStoppers at 919-834-HELP.


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Police are investigating an assault on a longtime North Carolina Education Board member.

Kathy Taft is from Greenville and has been very active in Eastern Carolina's education community as well.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said in a news release Sunday that Taft was hospitalized Saturday with serious injuries. After an initial investigation, police said they were treating the case as an assault.

The News and Observer of Raleigh reported that Taft lives in Greenville but was at a Raleigh home when emergency medical workers picked her up.

Taft was appointed to the state board by former Gov. Jim Hunt in 1995. She was reappointed to serve a second term in 2003. Her term expires March 31, 2011.

Taft ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat in 2008. Her ex-husband, Tom Taft, is a former state senator from Greenville.

Reports indicate she was at the Raleigh home of John Geil, who Taft had once dated. The reports also indicate Geil was in another state when Taft was found.

Taft is a long-time advocate of education in Pitt County and the state, and she graduated from ECU.

The News & Observer website she and her ex-husband were "longtime friends" of the Gores, Al and Tipper.

According to the NC Board of Education website, Taft "was reappointed to serve a second term on the State Board in 2003. A long-time supporter of public education, a former vice chair of the Pitt County Board of Education and a founding member of the Pitt County Communities in Schools Program."

The bio goes on to state she is "actively involved in representing the State Board's Compliance Commission for Accountability, the North Carolina Public School Forum. Taft attended North Carolina State University and East Carolina University (ECU), graduating cum laude from ECU with a Bachelor's degree in education. She is an inductee into East Carolina University's College of Education Educator Hall of Fame. Her term expires March 31, 2011."

(Copyright 2010 WITN and North Carolina Associated Press.)


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