PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A police officer turned private investigator went missing after she was supposed to be going on a normal trip to the bank. The last person to see her? A close friend. This is the story of Taylor Wright.
WKRG News 5 is looking back at the crimes that shocked the Gulf Coast. Taylor Wright’s story is the ninth in the series.
Taylor Wright, a native of South Carolina, was 33 years old when she went missing in Pensacola. Taylor had just moved to Pensacola recently after getting a divorce from her husband, Jeff Wright. The two had a child together and had been fighting over their son when she went missing.
Once she moved to Pensacola, she got on a few dating apps, which is where she found her girlfriend, Cassandra Waller. In an interview Waller did, she said the two hadn’t been together too long but had been together “enough time to have sincere feelings.” Although they had strong feelings for one another, Waller had caught Taylor cheating on her previously.
The downward spiral started when Taylor withdrew $100,000 from her joint bank account with her ex-husband against court orders. She split the money up between friends in order to hide the money. One of the friends Taylor gave money to was Ashley McArthur. McArthur said she would put the money in a safety deposit box and when Taylor was ready for the money, they would go to the bank together and get it out.
In the weeks following up to Sept. 8, 2017, Taylor had asked multiple times to get the money but McArthur kept making excuses as to why she couldn’t go to the bank. On Sept. 8, McArthur and Taylor had plans to go to the bank to get the money. During the day, McArthur called Waller and said instead of going to the bank, her and Taylor would be going to ride horses in east Milton. Waller said she was concerned from the beginning because she knew how important it was to Taylor to get the money.
Waller started texting Taylor as soon as she got off the phone with McArthur and did not receive a response until 7 p.m. when ‘Taylor’ said, “I’ll call you later. I’m not angry with you and I should have called, but I just need to think. I’m trying to get my life organized and on track.”
Over the next few days, Waller became extremely concerned and filed a missing person report. Police originally said she was allowed to leave because she was an adult, but began an investigation anyways. Officers became extremely suspicious of McArthur after they checked her text messages and her location. McArthur told officers she was in east Milton, however, her phone location showed she was nowhere near there.
Officers also found out McArthur had been cashing forged checks. At this point, McArthur knew she was in trouble and stopped cooperating with officials. On Oct. 9, 2017, officials got a search warrant for a farm and within two hours they discovered the body of Taylor Wright. She was found with a gunshot wound to the head and had been wrapped in a hammock.
McArthur was arrested that night and charged with first-degree premeditated murder. She plead not guilty but was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years.