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Grisly New Details Emerge In Texas Woman's Trial For Murder Of Pregnant Friend
Taylor Parker allegedly faked her own pregnancy, according to prosecutors, who say that she murdered and took Reagan Hancock's baby, Braxlynn Sage, from the mother's dead body.
The attorneys prosecuting a woman charged with the brutal murder of her pregnant friend have had to remind jurors that she is "mentally competent" to stand trial, even as details of her elaborate alleged lies and plots emerged.
Taylor Parker, 29, is charged with the capital murder of Reagan Hancock, 21, as well as the kidnapping and capital murder of her baby, Braxlynn Sage Hancock, who Parker allegedly cut out of her friend's dead body — placenta and all — on Oct. 9, 2020. Prosecutors suggest she allegedly committed these acts in order to pass the child off as her own. Opening statements in the trial began on Sept. 13.
Prosecutors spent the first days of the trial laying out Parker's vast web of alleged lies that led up to Hancock's murder, which they say took place so Parker would have a baby to pass off as her own. They say she'd been faking a pregnancy for 10 months to keep her then-boyfriend, Wade Griffin, around.
However, prosecutors say Parker's lies neither started nor ended with her purported pregnancy.
Taylor Parker's two ex-husbands, Tommy Waycasey and Hunter Parker, her former OB-GYN and the administrator of a woman's clinic where she'd been a patient testified that — following the birth of her two children with Waycasey — Taylor Parker had a tubal ligation in 2014 and then a medically necessary hysterectomy in 2015, according to Texarkana NBC affiliate KTAL. Waycasey said that his then-wife was extremely upset about the procedures.
It was during Waycasey's testimony that the prosecution reminded the court that Taylor had been deemed competent to stand trial.
Hunter Parker, who married Taylor following her divorce from Waycasey, testified that his ex-wife didn't tell him she was infertile until after they were married. According to Hunter, she claimed to have a variety of medical problems and even allegedly faked seizures in order to keep their relationship together.
Two of Taylor's friends testified that, after her second marriage, she desperately wanted to have a daughter but told them she was unable to because she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She allegedly offered each friend $100,000 to act as a surrogate, though neither was interested. She also allegedly told people she'd miscarried twins, that she'd lost a subsequent daughter immediately after giving birth and that she and Hunter had successfully hired a surrogate but that Hunter had cheated on her with the woman.
Hunter Parker testified that his ex-wife also tried to convince him to get a loan and use a surrogate to conceive a biological child, and then promptly suggested her grandmother would pay for it using cash, which would be delivered by a man named "Tim Hightower." He received several texts from the person who claimed to be Hightower, including a picture of a duffel bag of cash, but Taylor subsequently told him that Hightower had gotten in an accident on the way to deliver the money and that the first responders had stolen the money. He said he didn't believe her.
The couple separated in April 2019, he testified, and, within a few weeks, Taylor began to date Wade Griffin, according to KTAL.
According to testimony by Griffin's sister-in-law and his mother, as reported by KTAL, the lies started almost immediately — even as everyone in Griffin's life sensed that he wasn't that into Taylor.
Griffin's sister-in-law, his mother, a real estate agent and Texas Department of Safety Lt. Andrew Venable laid out two overlapping schemes, besides the fake pregnancy, that Taylor allegedly developed to keep her relationship with Griffin intact: First, that she was an heiress with enough money to buy a $4.5 million walnut farm for the couple; and second, that her mother had stolen Taylor's inheritance and hired a hitman who attempted to kill the couple. Taylor eventually told people her own private detective had foiled the plot.
As the real estate deal began falling through at the very end of 2019, she then announced she was pregnant.
According to testimony from Waycasey, the clinic where she had the hysterectomy and Griffin's sister-in-law, Taylor faked urine tests to prove her pregnancy and re-used sonogram images from an earlier pregnancy to prove she was having a baby. Griffin's mother and Taylor's ex, Hunter Parker, testified that he tried to warn Griffin's younger brother about Taylor's infertility and deceptions in December 2019, but to no avail.
Having provided friends and family with a due date of Sept. 22, Griffin's mother testified that she'd assumed the young woman would fake a miscarriage and the relationship would end. Detectives testified that Taylor, however, ordered a fake baby belly and fake sonograms in August, following her one-year anniversary with Griffin.
In mid-September, Waycasey testified that he anonymously texted Griffin multiple times over the course of several days, revealing that Taylor had a hysterectomy and had used sonograms from her older kids to prove her supposed current pregnancy. Griffin sent Taylor a screencap of the text messages, and detectives said that her online searches escalated thereafter, as she sought out places where pregnant women might gather, "out of hospital" birth protocols and videos of Caesarian sections, among other things.
A hog rancher in Wynnewood, Oklahoma testified that someone going by the name Taylor Griffin called him on Sept. 22 to arrange the sale of a trailer full of hogs for just over $6,000, Texarkana radio station KTOY reported. The rancher was concerned that it might be a scam because she didn't understand licensing or interstate transfer rules, and refused to continue the transaction; he testified she texted back on Sept. 27 claiming it was all arranged but he refused.
On Sept. 30, workers at another clinic in Paris, Texas testified that Taylor came in for a pre-scheduled sonogram and began crying, telling workers she wanted to reschedule because her husband was in the military and had died, and her mother had cancelled on her. They later saw her sitting on a bench in the parking lot; police testified that she was looking up the license plates of the expectant mothers entering the clinic.
Reagan Hancock's husband testified that, around this time, Taylor — who had been their wedding photographer in 2019 and stayed connected to the couple via Facebook — and his wife had been texting consistently for about a week, after what Taylor had given Reagan a gift, according to Facebook messages shared in court.
On Oct. 5 — three days before the murder — an intentional fire was set at Wade Griffin's house, where he and Taylor had been living, knocking out the plumbing and power, Griffin's mom testified. Taylor was set to be induced the following day, but a bomb threat (which detectives have since allegedly connected to her) was called into the clinic that day.
On the morning of Oct. 8, detectives testified that Taylor went to the area of Reagan Hancock's house and sat outside for a significant period of time; she went over later that evening to hang out with the expectant woman.
On the day of the murder, Oct. 9, Griffin showed up at the hog farmer's property in Oklahoma — several hours from his home — at 7:35 a.m. with a trailer full of hogs and fake text messages that the man had supposedly agreed to buy them for just over $6,100.
Police say the phone records and surveillance video indicate that Taylor bought gas at 6:35 a.m. near Reagan's home and exchanged a short series of text messages with her between 7:22 a.m. and 7:52 a.m., as reported by KTAL. Both women's phones left the Hancock house around 9:14 a.m.; Reagan's has never been recovered.
Reagan's husband testified that he got a series of strange messages from his wife's phone ending at 8:30 a.m., and then got a Facebook message from a neighbor around 9:30 a.m about the couple's dog having escaped. He tried his wife's phone but she didn't answer, so he started calling her and other people repeatedly before leaving work to check on her.
According to testimony from the medical examiner and a crime scene restoration expert, Reagan was stabbed and beaten in four or five areas of the home before she eventually died in her own living room. She had extensive defensive wounds on her hands and arms, five skull fractures, a broken nose, and more than 100 stab wounds. The medical examiner testified that she was likely beaten with both ends of a claw hammer, as well as a mason jar of pink and blue sand from her own baby's gender reveal party, then repeatedly stabbed — likely with the small scalpel found inside her neck during her autopsy. The coroner was unable to rule out that she'd also been strangled, because her throat had been cut. At some point, her killer sliced her lower abdomen open from one hip to the other, removed her uterus, sliced it open, and removed both her child and the placenta.
Taylor was pulled over for erratic driving in Idabel, Texas around 9:30 a.m., with a newborn baby in distress on her lap and an umbilical cord protruding from her pants, according to testimony from the officer who pulled her over; a placenta eventually fell out as well. She had blood on her hands, face, legs and feet; he and a passerby who stopped to help noted that there was no blood on the driver's seat of the car or on the baby, and much of the blood on Taylor seemed dry. Despite multiple requests to be taken to a hospital in Oklahoma where she said her doctor practiced, she was taken to a closer one: McCurtain County Memorial Hospital.
Medical personnel from there testified that an external exam to check for internal bleeding revealed Taylor did not have a uterus, and an internal exam revealed neither blood in her vaginal canal nor the presence of a cervix (which is sometimes removed during a hysterectomy). A blood test showed she had no evidence of pregnancy hormones, but she seemed to insist she had delivered a baby. DNA tests revealed the child was Reagan Hancock's child.
The baby, Braxlynn Sage Hancock, was small — Reagan Hancock had only been 34 weeks along, while Taylor had claimed to be overdue — but doctors testified she had been viable. However, she was reportedly deprived of oxygen too long before getting to the hospital and suffered extensive brain damage as a result. She was taken off life support and declared dead at 1:22 p.m.
At 10:15 a.m., Reagan's mom, Jessica Brookes, arrived at the Hancock home to check on her daughter at the request of her husband, who was racing over. In her 911 call played for the jury, she is screaming.
"Help me! My daughter’s been murdered!” she screams. "There’s blood everywhere! Oh, my babies! Oh my God!”
She can be heard asking her own husband about Reagan's 3-year-old daughter, Kynlee — ultimately located in the home — and commenting on the quantity of blood. Reagan's husband arrived home after the police did.
On Wednesday, jurors saw videos of Taylor's interviews with police. In the footage, she claimed that Reagan had started the altercation by pushing her to the ground in the garage and trying to prevent her from leaving — though she was sketchy on the timing — but that the pregnant woman was ultimately so injured in the altercation that she asked Taylor to remove the baby from her body on the spot in order to save its life. Taylor claimed she was only complying with Reagan's wishes and that the woman was alive when she left, seemingly trying to imply that Reagan slit her own throat with the scalpel Taylor had used to remove the child. (The doctor who treated Taylor in the hospital had previously testified that the pain of a Caesarian section with no anesthesia would be too excruciating for Reagan to have remained still or conscious.)
She also claimed that Griffin had no idea she wasn't pregnant and admitted that Kynlee, Reagan's 3-year-old, had witnessed the scene of her mother's death.
Testimony was expected to continue on Thursday.