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In the realm of human stories, few are captivating and distressing, riddled with troubling details and actions, likewise in the case of Ashley McArthur. Taylor Wright’s murder at the hands of her friend Ashley McArthur shook the nation in 2017.
Ashley McArthur’s life is filled with mysterious twists and turns and has left an indelible mark on the people around her. The ill-fated relationship between Ashley and Taylor Wright led to shocking events that trickled down to her conviction for first-degree murder.
Who is Ashley McArthur?
Ashley McArthur is a 41 years old woman of intrigue and complexity. She was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. Growing up in a tight-knit community, she experienced the love and support that laid the foundation for her future endeavours.
Ashley McArthur also happens to be a former CSI investigator. She first met Taylor Wright on a crime scene as Ashley was an investigator for that particular case.
Who was Taylor Wright?
Taylor Wright was an Ex-police officer, a 33-year-old private investigator, and a South Carolina native. From 2008 to 2009 and again from 2012 to 2013, she served in the Jacksonville Police Department.
Deputy Chief Timothy A. Malfitano of the Jacksonville Police Department said, “Officer Taylor Wright was a bold and vibrant young officer, who we were glad to rehire for service when Taylor returned to the region in 2012”.
The Ashley-Taylor Connection
The story takes a dramatic turn when we delve into the relationship between Ashley McArthur and Taylor Wright. Ashley McArthur and Taylor Wright were once very close friends and business associates, and their friendship appeared resilient. However, beneath the friendly face was a terrible conspiracy in the making.
They were so close to each other that friends and colleagues could not fathom when Ashley was brought in as a suspect in Taylor’s murder. However, life often surprises us with its unexpected twists, and their bond would soon be tested in unimaginable ways.
The Tragic Fate of Taylor Wright
Taylor was moved to Pensacola after divorcing her husband, Jeff Wright, who was in the military and remarried at the time of the investigation. Jeff Wright and Taylor married for ten years and had a son. The two had a dispute over their child custody in the court.
Taylor tried a couple of dating apps after moving to Pensacola, where she met her girlfriend, Cassandra Waller. In an interview, Waller stated that the two had only been together for “enough time to have sincere feelings.”
Despite their intense affection, Waller had previously found Taylor cheating on her. Taylor moved in with her girlfriend, Cassandra Waller, and was enjoying it.
Her live-in girl, Cassandra Waller, reported not seeing Taylor since September 8, 2017. They had only recently moved in together. Their last communication was via text messages around 11:20 am, after which Taylor ceased responding. Taylor Wright’s disappearance sparked concern among friends and loved ones.
Because Taylor Wright’s ex-husband and they were supposedly involved in a flared custody dispute over their son at the time of her disappearance, Jeff Wright was the person on whom investigators originally focused their inquiries.
Investigators were able to determine that Taylor was last seen on September 8. She spent most of the day with her friend Ashley McArthur, a former deputy’s office technician in Escambia County.
Later, Cassandra received a text from Taylor’s phone stating that she needed time to sort her life out. During this time, Ashley McArthur, a person connected to the case, had contacted her cousin, inquiring about his presence on the family farm (though he was attending a funeral then).
In an interview with the police, McArthur mentioned that she and Taylor had visited her family’s property for horseback riding. They later returned to McArthur’s house, where Taylor presumably took an Uber to a bar. McArthur expressed her belief that Taylor was unharmed, stating that she was tough and always carried weapons for self-defense.
However, cell phone records contradicted this narrative. When authorities followed up on the lead, they discovered Taylor’s concealed body on another farm owned by McArthur’s family in North Pensacola.
Shockingly, Taylor had been shot in the back of the head and callously buried under layers of potted soil and concrete. McArthur’s bank records further raised suspicions.
A cashier’s check, worth $34,000 in Taylor’s name, had been deposited into McArthur’s bank account, which she spent. Prosecutors argued that Taylor confronted McArthur about her money, likely leading to her tragic demise.
The Surveillance footage from September 9, 2017, showed McArthur purchasing potting soil and concrete from a Home Depot. This evidence, combined with witnesses’ testimonies, painted a damning picture.
Audrey Warne, a local bartender and friend of McArthur, testified that McArthur had made statements about drugging Taylor’s beer and expressed her belief that the world would be better off without Taylor.
At the trial, the prosecution highlighted the contrasting behavior exhibited by McArthur in two separate police interviews. They contended that her demeanour changed drastically, indicating her realization that she had been caught.
The Trial and Conviction
The murder trial began in August 2019. However, courtroom proceedings against Ashley McArthur unfolded with tension and anticipation.
Witness testimonies, forensic evidence, and expert opinions were presented to the jury to establish Ashley’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors believed McArthur shot Taylor after confronting her about the stolen money.
Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen told the jury that Taylor required money for court hearings and child support. Attorney Bridgette further claimed that Taylor had sent McArthur multiple text messages demanding access to the money.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, Ashley McArthur had a reason,’ Bridgette claimed in court. ‘Ashley McArthur killed Taylor Wright and then attempted to cover it up with lies, concrete, and plotting dirt.’
McArthur’s defense team stated that the prosecution had no physical evidence or murder weapon linking her to Taylor’s death.
‘There will be no physical evidence brought in this trial to prove to you that Ashley McArthur had anything to do with Taylor Wright’s death,’ defense counsel John Beroset said.
He also doubted Taylor’s mental health at the time of her disappearance, citing drug allegations. After careful deliberation, the jury delivered a verdict that shook the courtroom—Ashley McArthur was found guilty of first-degree murder.
Where is Ashley McArthur now?
Following her conviction, Ashley McArthur is currently kept at the Lowell Correctional Institution, a women’s prison nestled in the charming city of Ocala, Florida. This facility has become her new residence as she serves her life sentence.
Zachary McArthur’s Role in the Case
Ashley McArthur’s husband, Zach McArthur testimony, revealed many things for the jury to decipher her character. Zach McArthur claimed he was in the dark about his wife Ashley and Taylor having any financial exchange behind his back.
However, he stated that Ashley was always found to be acting weird during the disappearance of Taylor. Many speculate that Zachary’s character is also involved in this murder, but no evidence supports such a narrative.
Impact on Loved ones and Community
The story of Ashley McArthur teaches us about the fragility of trust and the depths of human betrayal. It reminds us of the far-reaching consequences of our actions and the impact they can have on others.
The deeds of Ashley McArthur not only destroyed the life of the victim Taylor but it affected the lives of Zachary McArthur and Cassandra Waller.
The murder scarred them for life, and what relief did it bring to Alexandra herself? She received nothing besides shame and guilt for the rest of her life on top of the sentence she received.