Former Manatee deputy charged with murder in death of wife in '08

MANATEE -- Former Manatee County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy Robert Taylor has been arrested in Missouri on second-degree murder charges in the September 2008 death of his wife, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

The cause of Pamela Taylor’s death was originally believed to be a drowning and the medical examiner ruled the manner of death undetermined, the sheriff’s office said.

After further investigation, it was ruled a homicide in late 2010.

“Our guys from the beginning felt like there was more to this than just the drowning,” said Sheriff Brad Steube. “This was some diligent work from the detectives.”

Detectives kept an eye on inconsistencies in Robert Taylor’s story throughout the time of the investigation, according to authorities.

The 55-year-old told investigators that he awoke the morning of Sept. 11, 2008, to find his wife, 63, dead in the swimming pool of their home in the 7300 block of Caladesia Drive in southern Manatee.

He said he then removed his wife from the deep end of the pool and placed her at the steps, according to a report by the sheriff’s office. However, his clothing at the time was dry and showed no evidence of having been in the pool.

“Taylor told detectives there were no life insurance policies on his wife, but it was learned that Taylor had two policies, with one of them being applied for two weeks before her death,” the release states.

One of the polices was for $300,000 and the other was for $250,000, a report said. It is unknown if he received money from those polices.

“When a statement is given, we try to verify the information and when second and third interviews are conducted and the story changes, then it’s obvious that the person is trying to cover his tracks,” Steube said.

He also went to “great length” to hide the whereabouts of his old computer, according to a report, and finally stated in an interview that he gave it to Goodwill, where it was later located.

The computer revealed Robert Taylor had obtained life insurance quotes and bought one accidental death policy using his personal e-mail, the report said.

Robert Taylor also told investigators that he went to bed around midnight on the night of his wife’s death, but a check of his hard drive revealed he was on the computer all night and well into the morning.

Investigators also learned Pamela Taylor had been a victim of “repeated domestic violence” by her husband, the release states.

About a year before her death, Pamela Taylor pointed out injuries to her person, including contusions on her body and a black eye, according to a report. This was investigated by Professional Standards and the Domestic Violence Unit, but she attributed her injuries to falling in the pool and the case was not investigated further.

In an interviewed conducted in March 2010, the Taylor’s next-door neighbor stated she and her husband were on their lanai on Sept. 10, 2008, at around midnight when they heard a violent argument from the Taylor home about 35 feet away, a report said.

Robert Taylor was arrested Tuesday in Gravois Mills, Mo. He is being held in the Morgan County, Mo., jail. Local detectives were expecting to bring him back to Manatee sometime in the next week, according to the report.

Robert Taylor served as a corrections deputy with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office from 1994 to 2007.