By Cheril Vernon
Messenger Copy Editor
PALESTINE – According to information received from the Palestine Police Department early in the afternoon of Saturday, June 24, “On the night of Friday, June 23, detectives from the Palestine Police Department located the body of Ricki Taylor, 46, in a remote location in Houston County. Taylor was reported missing on Thursday, June 22.”
The police statement indicated Taylor’s body had been transported to Dallas for an autopsy. Taylor’s family has been notified but a cause of death has not officially been determined.
The ongoing investigation into Taylor’s death by the Palestine PD is being assisted the Texas Rangers.
A $3,500 Crime Stoppers reward was offered for information that led to the whereabouts of a Taylor, a resident of Palestine, who had been missing since the evening of Wednesday, June 21.
In the early morning hours of Thursday, June 22, the Palestine Police Department received a call in reference to a missing person, Ricki Deann Taylor. The last reported contact with Taylor was on the evening of Wednesday, June 21, in Palestine.
“At this point in time, we are trying to get as much information as we can about her and her possible whereabouts and things that would help us locate her. We are asking for help from the community in any way that we can get it,” Palestine Police Lt. Gabriel Green told members of the media, during a press conference Friday afternoon, in front of the Palestine Police Department. “Our detectives are working around the clock investigating this case, trying to get as much information as they can and trying to piece together the pieces of the puzzle they can get.”
Taylor had worked for the past two years as the chief operating officer of 93.5 KBPC “Pine Country” radio station. Taylor also had been involved for many years with the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce as a longtime volunteer and former board member.
“She is a very special lady, a very special part of our radio family. She did a lot here. She worked a lot of hours and tried to make — did make – it a success,” 93.5 KBPC “Pine Country” News Director Gary Richards said Friday. “To have her disappear suddenly is very emotional for all of us. We just pray and hope she is okay.”
Richards said Taylor came to work Wednesday as usual, but she did not return on Thursday.
“It’s been a real struggle. We just don’t know where she is. We just want her to be safe,” Richards said. “The last time I saw her was Wednesday and then the next day she’s not here and you realize how much someone means.”
Taylor always had a smile on her face, Richards said.
“I am so used to sitting next to her, shooting the bull,” Richards said pointing to the desk that Taylor occupied near him. “Now it’s an empty chair. In a little town like Palestine, you are family.”
According to her co-workers, Taylor has two grown daughters, a 12-year-old son and a grandchild.
During Friday’s press conference, Green said local law enforcement are actively working her disappearance as a missing person’s case at this point.
“If you think it is otherwise or have information it could be otherwise, please let us know immediately. She needs you now,” Green said.
According to what Taylor’s family members have posted on Facebook, Taylor’s blue Ford pickup was found in Willie Myers Park in Palestine with damage “… that looks like it had been ran off the road.”
As of Friday, the Palestine police had not confirmed any details about the whereabouts of where Taylor was last seen or what may or may not have been found in the vehicle.
“I do know they have recovered the vehicle and it was a blue Ford truck,” Green said during the press conference. “If anyone saw it that night and saw her in it, we highly urge them to call us with any information.”
Green stressed that the missing person’s investigation is very broad at this point.
“The main thing with this investigation is that there a lot of puzzle pieces. There are people that know her and love her….” Green said. “We are looking for people to give us good information to build this case from, this detail, or that detail.”
Green encouraged the public to report anything that looks “off,” no matter how small the detail.
“Maybe they saw this on that night, or they saw movement in the woods, things like that. Those are the pieces that help with this investigation,” Green said.
While the public has contacted the police department about setting up search parties, Green said it is not needed at this time.
“We have professional teams with search dogs so we can make sure that an area being searched is being preserved and searched properly and thoroughly,” Green said.
Green said they will let the public know if the situation changes, but right now the help the police needs is good information and help getting Taylor’s picture out to others.
“We know our community is an amazing asset. The best option on this investigation is to keep their eyes open and keep their ears open, even if it is a small piece of the puzzle, if they have anything, please call it in.”
Anyone with any information regarding Taylor’s disappearance and subsequent death is urged to contact the Palestine Police Department at 903-729-2254, Det. David Kassaw at 903-731-8482 or Det. Mark Harcrow at 903-731-8422. Information also can be submitted anonymously by texting PALPD, then the word tip to number 847411.