Remembering Erin Taylor

Cold case remains unsolved after 19 years

Bonnie Dowd releases balloons, each with a message, into the air at the memorial site for Erin Taylor to commemorate her life on Tuesday, the anniversary of the day Taylor’s body was discovered. The balloons read “miss you,” “big hugs” and “Erin bear.” Dowd visits the location annually to make sure Taylor’s story is not forgotten. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — A rosary draped around the base of a white cross can be seen along Marquette County Road 492 in Negaunee Township, but another cross lies in the wooded area just beyond the roadway — this one marking where a sheriff’s deputy discovered the badly decomposed body of 24-year-old Erin Taylor.

Police found Taylor’s body on Aug. 20, 2000, after she had been missing for nine days. An autopsy confirmed she had been murdered by strangulation, as a ligature remained in place around her neck. Though it’s been 19 years, who is responsible for Taylor’s death remains unsolved.

Almost annually, Taylor’s close friend Bonnie Dowd drives from Madison, Wisconsin, to Marquette to memorialize the life of her friend. She hopes to cause a little trouble, make people nervous and try to get some new leads on the cold case, she said.

“I feel like she’s been forgotten,” Dowd said. “Her family doesn’t really do anything because of religious reasons, so I’m kind of the only one left. That’s why I come up here and be her voice every year because she doesn’t have one. It’s important that she has a voice.”

Dowd first met Taylor at a women’s shelter and the two “just became fast friends,” she said. In 1999, they moved to Marquette and moved in together.

A cross rests on the side of Marquette Country Road 492 in Negaunee Township to mark the memorial site of 24-year-old Erin Taylor who was murdered 19 years ago. A second cross is placed about 100 yards into the woods off the road where her body was discovered. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

Taylor had told Dowd of her plans to meet a man in Munising the same weekend she went missing. On the following Monday, things started to feel off to Dowd. She arrived at Taylor’s home to find the window open and her beloved Siamese cat without food or water, something Taylor would never do, she said. She was reported missing shortly after.

“Thursday before she went missing she came over to my house and she said ‘woman,’ that’s what she called me, ‘we have got to talk.’ But then she got on my computer and never talked,” Dowd said. “I just wish I could go back and push her a little bit more.”

Only a couple weeks before her disappearance, Taylor wrote Dowd a card though they didn’t typically exchange cards.

“You’ll always be here in my heart,” it was signed.

“It makes me think she knew something was going on,” Dowd added.

Now it is a fond memento of Dowd’s she keeps alongside other photos, newspaper clippings and memories of Taylor in a scrapbook.

Dowd has her own thoughts on who she believes took the life of her best friend, but not that it can be proven.

“(There were) some things that happened when she first went missing,” Dowd said. “These people that I thought was weird at the time, but I never suspected them, makes sense. There’s things that were said and things that were done. It makes more sense now that they would say things the way that they did.”

Finding out who did it would bring Dowd peace of mind, but she is confident that justice will be served even in the afterlife, she said. For now, Dowd continues to remember her friend daily and make sure her life is not forgotten.

“It’s still unsolved and we want it solved,” Dowd said. “We want justice for her. We just want people to remember she was here and now she’s not. Somebody took her away and it needs to be solved. She needs justice; we need justice; I do.”

Erin Taylor was sweet, funny and played the violin beautifully, Dowd said. Her violin was just passed on to Dowd’s granddaughter.

Taylor would have been 44 this year. Dowd said one thing her friend always looked forward to was turning a quarter of a century, which she missed by just a few months before her life was cut short. Dowd thought at this age she’d have stood as maid of honor in Taylor’s wedding and would have watched her children grow up, she said.

On Tuesday, Dowd released a bouquet of balloons each with a different memory for Taylor; some read “Erin bear,” “www.justiceforerintaylor.com” and “love you always.”

As she released the balloons and watched each pass the tree line, one balloon stayed nestled in the canopy.

“Miss you,” it read.

“Maybe, she’s just trying to tell me she misses me,” Dowd said.

For more information on Erin Taylor, to leave a tip or to donate to the reward offered, visit www.justiceforerintaylor.com.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.