1963 Killing May Be Solved— but Suspect May Not Be Alive

Authorities have been searching for months with no luck
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2020 4:03 AM CDT
1963 Killing May Be Solved, but Is Suspect Alive?
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / digicomphoto)

Margaret "Peggy" Beck was serving as a counselor for the first time at a Girl Scout camp in Colorado on the night of Aug. 18, 1963, when her tent mate got sick and went to the infirmary for the rest of the evening. So Beck, 16, was alone in the tent when someone else entered it—and then raped and killed her. When she didn't show up at breakfast the next morning, her tent mate ultimately found her dead in the tent. For 57 years, the murder has remained unsolved. But thanks to DNA evidence that was preserved from the crime scene, officials announced last week that a suspect has been identified, KDVR reports. But so far the sheriff's office has had no luck tracking down James Raymond Taylor, who would be 80 by now—if he's still alive.

"Nothing would give us greater pleasure than to actually put the handcuffs on" Taylor, the Jefferson County sheriff says, but after months of fruitless searching, it's not clear whether he's already dead. "We have no ideas where he’s at," an investigator says, per CBS Denver. He was last seen in 1976 near Las Vegas. As for the DNA evidence, it was used to connect detectives with relatives of Taylor. A former Denver DA says, "Nowhere in the world have they solved a case this old with genetic genealogy," but that has not been confirmed. "Peggy was a beautiful young girl who loved life," her family says in a statement cited by 9 News. "She was loving and protective of her family and we will cherish the memories we have of her forever." (More cold cases stories.)

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