Real Name: William Claybourne Taylor
Aliases: William Clay Taylor, Clay Taylor, Michael A. Cauley, Michael Ferris Cawley, Michael Ferris Cauley, William C. Taylor, Robert J. Cudone, William Claybrourne Taylor
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder
Missing Since: August 6, 1980
Details: Clay Taylor is wanted for the murder of sixty-four-year-old former INS official Walter Scott and the attempted assassination of Florida mayor Eugene Bailey. At approximately 9pm on the night of January 8, 1977, Walter, Eugene, two friends, and their wives were leaving an Ocala restaurant when they discovered that one of Walter's car tires was flat. The women decided to take one car home while the men tried to fix the car's tire. Twenty-five minutes later, after they got it repaired at a local garage, the four men left to go home.
While driving down rural Route 27, another car pulled up next to them. A passenger in the car fired a shotgun at Walter's head, killing him instantly. Walter's car veered off the road and came to rest in a field. The gunman then walked to the car and shot Eugene three times at close range. Miraculously, he survived and the other two men were unharmed.
Authorities felt that Walter was not the target of the crime; they believed that Eugene was the target because of his career. He had been mayor for sixteen terms and was well-known throughout town. However, he and his family could not think of anyone who would have wanted him dead. The only physical evidence found at the scene were three .32 caliber shell casings and an appointment book, apparently dropped by the gunman. Authorities investigated several leads, but they were all dead ends.
With no suspects, the investigation stalled until 1980, when a witness came forward. The woman claimed that she had been abused by her boyfriend, Paul Allen. She told authorities that Allen had met with a local attorney named Raymond Ellis "Ray" Taylor who had hired him to kill Eugene. She claimed that Ray's brother Clay was also involved. The woman further claimed that Ray had told Allen to get rid of the guns involved in the shooting. She told them that Allen had taken her with him when he dumped the guns in a nearby river.
The woman led the investigators to an isolated cove along the Withlacoochee River, twenty-five miles from Ocala. Divers searched the river for two days, but the guns were not found. However, after questioning locals, investigators learned that three guns had been found in the river shortly after the murder. These guns were in the custody of local police. The guns were registered to Ray; he claimed that they had been stolen six days prior to the murder. Ballistic tests proved that one of the guns was used to shoot Eugene.
Investigators interviewed Allen, who initially denied any involvement in the case, claiming that his girlfriend was lying. However, when they told him that they had found the guns used in the shooting, he confessed. He claimed that he was only the driver and that he did not shoot anyone. He told them that Ray was $40,000 in debt in 1977 and was also Eugene's business attorney. Ray apparently assumed that if Eugene died, his family would appoint him executor of Eugene's $3.5 million estate. He also assumed that he would make a large amount in legal fees as a result.
Allen told investigators that Ray had given him the guns. He claimed that he and Clay followed the couples to the restaurant on the night of the murder. Clay flattened one of the car's tires in order to have less witnesses to the shooting. Clay and Allen proceeded to Route 27 and waited for the men to drive by. When they did, Clay put on a ski mask and attached a flashlight to the barrel of his shotgun.
Allen said that once they were pulled up to the other car, Clay fired once, killing Walter. He then told Allen to pull over; he ran to the car and then fired the remaining shots at Eugene. Afterwards, he took the guns used in the shooting and gave them to Ray. A week after the shooting, Ray returned to Allen and gave him the guns, which he then dumped in the river.
Allen's story was further corroborated when investigators determined that the appointment book dropped at the murder scene belonged to Clay's girlfriend. The girlfriend said that he was supposed to go to a concert with her that night, but he never showed up. Allen testified against the Taylor brothers, received fifteen years probation, and died in 1981 of natural causes.
Ray was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. However, his conviction was later overturned; he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Eugene, the intended victim, died in 1983. Clay was arrested in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on May 20, 1980. He was later released on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond and ordered to return to Ocala. However, he never arrived there and has not been seen since.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the September 26, 1990 episode. It was excluded from Amazon Prime episodes.
Although not mentioned in the segment, Ray was also charged with the 1967 murder of his wife Marilee. She drowned in South Carolina in what was originally ruled in an accident. The outcome of that trial is not known.
Results: Captured. In 1991, Ray was released on parole. In July 2016, the FBI learned from an Unsolved Mysteries viewer that Clay was married and living in Reidsville, North Carolina, under the assumed name James Emmett "Jay" Manion. He also ran a wallpaper store in the area. He was arrested on July 28; when brought into custody, he denied that he was Clay. However, fingerprints confirmed his identity.
In January 2018, Clay went on trial for Walter's murder. The jury convicted him of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. In March, he was sentenced to life in prison. In April, Ray was arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, for helping him hide from authorities.
- Taylor's FBI Wanted Poster
- Taylor Trial Prosecution Rests Case - October 2, 1980
- Jury deliberates former prosecutor's fate - October 8, 1980
- Prosecutor Now On The Other Side - October 12, 1980
- Taylor gets life sentence - December 9, 1980
- Tv Show To Ask Help In Tracking Suspect - September 26, 1990
- 13 Years Later, Taylor Pleads Guilty In Death - October 3, 1990
- A mystery, 36 years later - January 8, 2013
- Captured: Suspect in ’77 murder, attempted murder of Williston mayor - July 28, 2016
- FBI Murder Suspect Captured After Decades as Fugitive - July 28, 2016
- Fugitive arrested decades later - July 28, 2016
- Police say he killed the wrong man nearly 40 years ago. The FBI caught him Thursday. - July 29, 2016
- 40 years later, fugitive appears before N. Carolina judge - July 30, 2016
- Bailey family 'starting to see end of story' with William Claybourne Taylor's arrest - August 6, 2016
- January trial set in 1977 murder, attempted hit on Williston mayor - May 12, 2017
- Reidsville wife set to testify against fugitive in 1977 Florida murder case - December 14, 2017
- Witnesses describe day, circumstances of 1977 murder - January 17, 2018
- Taylor found guilty of second degree murder - January 20, 2018
- Life for defendant in 1977 murder, assassination attempt - March 2, 2018
- William Taylor sentenced to life in prison for 1977 Florida murder plot - March 12, 2018
- Ray Taylor charged with helping brother elude FBI for decades - April 9, 2018