He was a stone mason who is a military veteran and avid Kansas City Chiefs and Royals fan. She was an entrepreneur and has belonged to the Red Hat Society, a group of older ladies dedicated to fun and freedom.
But on Friday, George and Ann Taylor, both in their 80s, were on life support and “fighting for their lives,” said a niece who acted as a family spokeswoman at an afternoon news conference in front of the couple’s south Kansas City home.
On Tuesday, the Taylors were found brutally beaten in their tidy house on Woodbridge Lane. They are believed to be the first victims in a rampage of violence that escalated to become a triple homicide, with the shotgun slayings of neighbors Susan Choucroun, 69, and Lorene Hurst, 88, as they stood outside their homes. Hurst’s 63-year-old son, Darrel Hurst of Leawood, was killed alongside his mother. He had come to visit.
Brandon B. Howell, a 34-year-old ex-convict, was charged Wednesday in the attacks.
“We are heartbroken over this tragedy. The family is in complete shock,” said a niece who stood on the driveway of the Taylors’ home. Behind her, 15 family members stood in silent support, many clasping hands and choked with emotion.
“We cannot understand how such a heinous crime could happen to two such wonderful and kindhearted people,” the niece continued, reading from a statement. “We have cried many tears, but with each day we feel a little more strength to face an unknown future.”
In the moments before the news conference, a family member shared that the prognosis was not positive, and, in talking about George and Ann Taylor, initially began the conversation in the past tense, saying, “George was,” before stopping herself.
“It’s guarded,” she said of the couple’s health. “It doesn’t look good.”
“Today, Ann and George are fighting for their lives. They are both on life-support measures,” the niece said. “We remain optimistic, but we know this is going to be a tough and long struggle, and we ask for your continued prayers and support.”
The Taylors, family member said, tended to be a private couple. The niece declined to give her name. Before the news conference, however, a number of other immediate family members were willing to provide names and talk in general about the couple.
George and Ann Taylor, they said, had created a blended family, with both bringing children from previous marriages. George Taylor had three adult children. Ann Taylor had two adult children. Together, they had multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The niece said both had lived in the Kansas City area for nearly all their lives. Neighbors previously had said they thought the couple had lived on the block of Woodbridge Lane, east of Wornall Road and south of 127th Street, for about five years.
As family members gathered, they parked at the center of the cul-de-sac. The neighborhood had been mostly quiet until then, as some neighbors were attending the funeral service for Choucroun, who on Friday was buried at Kehilath Israel Blue Ridge Cemetery.
In the middle of the cul-de-sac, family greeted and hugged one another, some crying as they embraced.
Among those in George Taylor’s immediate family for whom names were provided were son Larry Taylor, 60, of Kansas City and his wife, Ellen Taylor, 64; son George Taylor Jr., 55, of Lenexa; daughter Deborah Fite, 58, of Lenexa and her husband Bob Fite, 51; and granddaughter Cherie Beattie, 41, of Pleasant Hill.
Among Ann Taylor’s immediate family were son Scott Anderson, 52, of Cape Coral, Fla., and his wife Vickie Anderson, 50; and daughter Vickie Dewitt, 57, of Gardner.
The niece, in her statement, made special mention of those who were killed.
“Our family,” she said, “would like to send our love, our thoughts, to the relatives and friends of Ann’s and George’s neighbors who tragically lost their lives that day. We believe they were killed trying to support Ann and George, and we are forever grateful.”
She thanked the Kansas City Police Department, the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, the ambulance crews and the doctor and nurses. “We have all the faith in the world they are doing everything they can to save Ann and George.”
She saved her last thanks for a supportive public for prayers she urged to continue.
“Even in these troubled times,” she said, “it is so heartwarming to see the entire community come together over this senseless crime that could affect any one of us.”
To reach Eric Adler, call 816-234-4431 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.