Michigan born in 1936, Gary Taylor spent his early years in Florida, launching his first attacks on women there, when he was in his teens.
His standard M.O. involved loitering around bus stops after nightfall, waiting for solitary women to disembark, assaulting them with a hammer.
Confined as a juvenile, Taylor returned to Michigan on release, in 1957, and there became notorious as the "Royal Oak Sniper," shooting women he found on the streets after dark. Thus far, none of his victims had died, and Taylor was shuttled from one psychiatric hospital to another over an eleven-year period, assaulting several Detroit women during ill-conceived furloughs.
Despite his continuing violence and a self-proclaimed "compulsion to hurt women," Taylor was rated a safe bet for out-patient treatment, "as long as he reports in to receive medication." Tiring of the game in late 1973, he stopped showing up at the hospital, and authorities waited fourteen months before listing his disappearance with the National Crime Information Center in Washington, D.C. By that time, Taylor had murdered at least four women in three different states.
A pair of victims from Ohio -- 25-year-old Lee Fletcher and 23-year-old Deborah Heneman -- were buried in Taylor's back yard before he abandoned his home in Onsted, Michigan, moving west to Seattle.
There, on the night of November 27, he abducted and killed a young housewife, Vonnie Stuth. Officers traced him to Enumclaw, Washington, where he sat still for interrogation but refused to take a polygraph exam. In the absence of an NCIC listing, homicide investigators did not know he was a fugitive, and they were forced to set him free. By the time Michigan authorities plugged Taylor's name into the national computer, he had vanished again, bound for Texas.
On May 20, 1975, Taylor was picked up in Houston on a charge of sexual assault, swiftly confessing his role in four murders. Victims Fletcher and Heneman were unearthed in Michigan on May 22, and Taylor signed confessions in two other cases, including those of Houston victim Susan Jackson, 21, and Vonnie Stuth, found buried near his former home in Enumclaw.
Further investigation cleared him of six other Washington murders, now blamed on Ted Bundy, but officers in Texas, Michigan, and California suspect him in as many as 20 unsolved homicides. Convicted on the four counts he confessed, Taylor was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Freedom to Kill
Monday, Jun. 09, 1975
In a criminal career that
has spanned two decades, Gary Addison
Taylor, 39, an itinerant Michigan machinist,
has robbed, raped, stabbed and otherwise
brought mayhem to at least a dozen women in
three states. Incredibly, courts and
psychiatrists time and again have declined
to keep him confined. Last week Houston
police were holding Taylor on serious
charges that may finally put him behind bars
Taylor's lust for
violence took bizarre forms. At 18, he was
charged with attacking a woman with a wrench
as she stepped off a bus in St. Petersburg,
Fla. A jury acquitted him. At 21, he drove
through four Detroit suburbs firing a gun at
women. He wounded two, and was billed by
local newspapers as "the phantom sniper."
A psychiatrist testified
in court that "he is unreasonably hostile
toward women, and this makes it very
possible that he might very well kill a
person." Taylor was declared insane and
committed to Michigan's Ionia State
Hospital, and three years later was
transferred to the Lafayette Clinic in
Out on a pass to attend a
welding class, Taylor talked his way into a
Detroit woman's home, then raped and robbed
her. By the next year, out on another pass,
he threatened a rooming-house manager and
her daughter with an 18-inch butcher knife.
He was not put on trial in either incident;
instead he was sent back to Ionia.
In 1972, Taylor was
released from the Michigan Center for
Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti. Reason:
under Michigan law, a person acquitted of a
crime by reason of insanity cannot be kept
indefinitely in a mental institution; he
must be periodically certified mentally ill
and dangerous to himself or the community.
The psychiatric center's director, Dr. Ames
Robey, diagnosed Taylor's condition as a
character disorder and not a treatable
mental illness. Robey did not think Taylor
was dangerous as long as he took medication
and did not drink.
Soon after his release,
Taylor married. He and his wife Helen, a
secretary, moved first to Onsted, Mich.,
later to the Seattle suburbs. Last December
after separating from his wife, Taylor
settled down in Houston. There he was
indicted last week on three counts of
aggravated sexual abuse, one count of
attempted aggravated rape, and the rape of a
16-year-old pregnant girl. He is also likely
to be indicted for the murder of a 21-year-old
When news of his arrest
in Houston reached Taylor's estranged wife
in San Diego, she said Taylor had once told
her that he had killed four people in Onsted.
Meanwhile Taylor began to talk. But last
week he insisted to a Houston justice of the
peace that the police had beaten confessions
out of him; the police called the charges
Tipped off by Houston
police, investigators in Onsted found the
bodies of two Toledo girls, wrapped in
plastic bags, buried outside the bedroom
window of the old Taylor home. And in
Enumclaw, Wash., authorities found the body
of a missing woman behind a house where
Taylor had lived. Last week he was charged
with the killing.
could have been
averted if "the
had been locked
up years ago in
last year the
court upheld the
law that the
cases of the
six months. The
problem comes in
on whether those
man, who the
had killed seven
persons for hire,
was set free—and
a month later
stomped his wife
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE:
VICTIMS: 20 suspected
MO: Rape-slayer of women in at
least three states
DISPOSITION: Life term on one
count in Wash., Apr. 1976.
Gary Addison Taylor