She was only 27 when she was murdered in September 2001, but Crystal Taylor left behind a message that resonates just as strongly today.
She was a single mom, simultaneously trying to raise a son and carry another inside her. Different fathers, different challenges associated with each man. If you're thinking that she was in the process of making some bad decisions about her life, keep in mind that the big Taylor family of Hawthorne, CA had a lot of single-parent units in it. As a result, Crystal knew she and the baby she was carrying would do just fine.
If she was worried, she didn't show it… to everyone, that is. Different people in Crystal's life saw different snapshots of the issues and worries she was going through. Her work friends knew she received personal phone calls that made her cry. Her family knew that even when she returned from a long car trip in the middle of the night, she was still up early the next morning and off to church. She wasn't sleeping much, and those closest to her noticed her stress only in hindsight.
At a couple of points during that time, Crystal remarked, in what did -not- seem a prophetic manner to those around her, that "if something happens to me, _______ is responsible."
After her death, of course, those semi-joking words took on a different meaning, and spurred her family not to seek justice in traditional ways, but to become amateur detectives themselves.
While they were doing that, family members were also beating themselves up internally for not having taken Crystal's veiled warning seriously enough. Wishing you'd done more, thought harder, or made different moves is an inevitable part of the awful ripple effect of murder, and the Taylors have gone through all of that.
And now that Crystal Taylor's murder is officially solved, her family has a warning for everyone who's still alive to hear it. It's one of the reasons, they said, that they sat down with me for Dateline.
Their simple message is this: if you're in a relationship that makes you feel frightened or in danger, talk about it. To people you trust. Make them take you seriously. Have a discussion. And if you know someone in that situation, listen to what they're saying. Don't let a cry for help go by.
It's good advice. And it might save your life, or that of someone you love.