A man already charged with raping a Kansas City, Kan., woman is now charged with murder in her death in a traffic crash.
Wyandotte County prosecutors said Friday that Orlando Taylor, 35, is now charged with felony first-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Shannon Keithley.
Keithley died the morning of Aug. 18 while fleeing from the alleged rape in her home when her SUV crashed into a concrete pillar less than a mile away. She was calling 911.
Taylor, who was arrested the same morning hiding under the back deck of Keithley’s house, was originally charged with rape and burglary.
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But friends and family cried out for a murder charge.
The new charge, announced Friday by District Attorney Mark Dupree, alleges that Keithley was killed as a result of Taylor committing the underlying dangerous felony crimes of rape and burglary.
“Shannon was stolen from us,” her sister, Angelia Savorelli, said Thursday. “Stolen and murdered. She was such a gracious, giving and vivacious person.”
Keithley, who loved music, made her living restringing and refurbishing instruments in St. Louis and most recently in Lenexa, often for school music programs.
A co-worker and family friend in St. Louis, Gail Henry, had crusaded for the murder charge.
“I felt like she was pushing me to do something,” Henry said. “I think she knew someone would fight for her.”
Family members say they were contacted by the prosecutor’s office Thursday afternoon about the added charge and they quickly sent word to Henry.
“I cried when I got the text,” she said. “She was such a simplistic, loving girl. She deserved this. She deserved justice.”
Police confirmed that Keithley attempted two 911 calls that morning, but they had difficulty locating the origin of her first call.
Around 5 a.m. she apparently escaped from her home and drove away in her SUV. She was driving east on Leavenworth Road when her car crashed into the center pillar at the Interstate 635 overpass. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt — which friends said was another indication that she was frantic.
Taylor remains in custody on a $500,000 bond.