MARQUETTE - The cross is decorated with flowers and a rosary. It has been stationed amidst the woods in Negaunee Township for 13 years, marking the location of a murder case gone cold. Many still seek answers, however, on who killed Erin Taylor.
On Aug. 20, 2000, the partially decomposed body of Erin Rebecca Taylor was discovered by a Marquette County Sheriff's Office deputy on Marquette County Road 492. Taylor, 24, was found nine days after she was last seen alive.
It is believed she was strangled in her home and then dumped in the wooded area, miles from her home, the ligature still around her neck. She was found lying face up, covered with blankets and some of her belongings folded beneath her.
A photo of Taylor provided by police.
Police have said they believe Taylor was killed sometime after 10 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2000, and that they believe the killer's knowledge of the wooded area where Taylor was left indicated the suspect is a local resident.
Over the years, dozens of witnesses have been interviewed, including a man from Ontario who met Taylor online. The two had planned to meet at a Munising hotel the evening she was killed. Taylor never arrived and the man was cleared as a suspect by police.
"We have a suspect, but we're keeping an open mind about it ... This still remains an open investigation and we still receive tips on this case," said Marquette City Detective Capt. Gordon Warchock.
Items were collected throughout the investigation including fibers, hair and blood.
And although information is volunteered regularly, officials haven't received the evidence they need to push the case forward.
"The Michigan State Police Crime Lab has assisted and been of great help," Warchock noted. "They have taken the initiative to analyze evidence collected in the past for trace evidence and DNA evidence to help bring us to a conclusion."
For now, Warchock remains optimistic that they will close the case, and he encourages anybody with information to come forward.
Friends and family, including Taylor's best friend Bonnie Dowd, visit the site where Taylor was found each summer to maintain and add to the memorial that was erected for the victim.
Dowd visited the site Tuesday and released balloons in Taylor's honor, many that read "R.I.P." or "Miss You."
"Erin was always outgoing and friendly, she'd help anyone who needed it," Dowd said.
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.