Despite the fact that Blanche Taylor-Moore was convicted of only the death of her ex-boyfriend and sentenced to death for that crime she is considered to be a serial killer. It is not uncommon when someone is accused of murdering more than one person that they are convicted of all of the crimes. For instance I recently blogged about Anthony Shore who was executed in Texas recently. He had confessed to several different murders and assaults but he was only convicted of one of the murders and in essences the charges for the rest were dropped. Authorities often believe that once they have convinced a jury of one's guilt that there is no need for more trials. They can seem to be a waste of time and taxpayers money. In the same respect this has worked in the favor of prosecutors in the past. In the case of Carl Eugene Watts who had been convicted of murder in Texas, authorities in Michigan had decided not to pursue their case against him. Due to a loophole in Watts' sentencing Texas was going to be forced to release him despite the fact that he was considered to be a serial killer across multiple states. Since there is no statue of limitations on murder when this was discovered Michigan stepped in, filed charges and ultimately prevented his release into society. The thing with Blanche Taylor-Moore though is that she has been sitting on death row since 1990 and at the age of eighty-two and the way the death penalty is working (or not working) in North Carolina she will likely never be executed. The sad thing though is while North Carolina has not executed her in twenty-eight years, nor likely will, they have paid for chemotherapy and radiation to keep her alive. Yes, let that sink in just a bit. The taxpayers of North Carolina have paid extensive medical expenses to keep a woman alive in prison that has been sentenced to die.
In April 1989, just a few days after he had returned home from his honeymoon, Rev. Dwight Moore went into the hospital near his Winston-Salem North Carolina home. He had been suffering with severe stomach pain and vomiting. Over a period of time Moore's health continued to deteriorate to the point that his organs had begun to shut down but doctors could not figure out what was going on. At this point Moore was not expected to live. After hearing or suspecting that he had messed with some herbicides prior to coming to the hospital the doctors decided to do another toxicology test to check for that and other things. To their surprise they found that Moore had a level of arsenic in him that they had never seen in a person who was still living. By their estimations he should have already died but since he had not they figured it would be soon. With that said the doctors reported their findings to the local police. People have said that Dwight Moore sure will to live is the only that saved him. The police would go and interview him in the hospital and he would tell them that a man his wife, Blanche, had previously dated had died in 1986 with symptoms much like his.
Moore was correct. In October of 1986 Raymond Reid had died from what doctors at the time thought was Guillian-Barre Syndrome. Guillian-Barre weakened the the muscle and body, eventually shutting down organs. It would be discovered later that Reid had also had toxicology done at the hospital but due to some sort of mix up the doctors had never seen them, hence their diagnosis. Investigators would learn that not only did Guillian-Barre Syndrome mirror the same symptoms as arsenic poisoning, the toxicology report that the doctors had not seen confirmed there was massive levels of arsenic in Reid's body.
It seems investigators wasted no time in their investigation. Blanche was arrested on July 18, 1989. Eventually investigators would get warrants to exhume five bodies but it is unclear how many were done by the time of her arrest of if that was simply on charges of assault with a deadly weapon on her husband Dwight Moore. She would also be charged, at least eventually in the deaths of ex-boyfriend, Raymond Reid and her first husband, James Taylor after their bodies were exhumed at it would be determined they died of arsenic poisoning. They also exhumed the bodies of Blanche's father, Parker Kiser, her former mother in law, Isla Taylor and a former co-worker, Joseph Mitchell. The bodies of Parker Kiser and Isla Taylor showed significant levels of arsenic but not to the extent of being lethal. Mitchell's body showed no signs of arsenic poisoning. At one point prosecutors talked of exhuming the body of Blanche's former sister in law, Lillian Taylor-Stewart but she was buried in another county and permission was not granted, nor pushed for after Blanche was eventually convicted. It was said that Stewart, who died in 1972, had exhibited the same symptoms that Raymond Reid would suffer from in 1986. In the same respects it seems if someone was remotely close to Blanche over the years and had died their family suspected Blanche may have been responsible. At some point the investigators would need to stop.
Blanche's trial would begin in October of 1990 for the murder of Raymond Reid. At the time the other charges would wait but prosecutors were able to bring them up at her trial. Even Dwight Moore testified. He had survived his ordeal but not without life long issues. He would continue to experience weakness in his hands and feet, a classic sign of arsenic poisoning. He told the jury that he first became ill a few days after the couple had returned from their honeymoon in New Jersey in April of 1989. He stated that he became severely ill and collapsed just after eating a chicken sandwich that Blanche had given to him. It appears that as his symptoms worsened Dwight Moore was reminded of Raymond Reid and his symptoms. It has also been discovered that Blanche had made an effort to make herself the beneficiary on his pension and life insurance.
It is not clear if Blanche testified on her own behalf or her comments and denial to things were record from previous interviews with authorities but she denied ever giving any food to Raymond Reid while he was in the hospital. When Reid first began having symptoms in April of 1986 doctors seemed to think that he has shingles. He left the hospital for a period of time but by the end of September or beginning of October of that year he was back with the same symptoms, only this time he would not recover. He die on October 7, 1986. Several nurses from the hospital testified that Blanche visited Raymond nearly on a daily basis. On the days she did not visit Raymond seemed to be depressed. The prosecutor would point out the irony that Raymond loved his murderer so much he wanted her near him all the time, never knowing she was the reason he was dying. These same nurses testified that they had witnessed Blanche feed Raymond Reid banana pudding on October 1st. They stated Blanche had offered them some of the pudding but from a different container. They stated that up to this point Raymond was seeming to get better but after eating the pudding once again he got much sicker and eventually was unable to recover.
Much of the evidence that the prosecution was able to use had come to them in a bit of an unusual way. Prior to taking Blanche to trial Raymond Reid's ex-wife and son would file a civil suit against the hospital for malpractice. It was said that although there had been a statue of limitations on filing a wrongful death suit, that theirs was allowed to go forward because Blanche had been the executor of Raymond's will and apparently in charge of medical decisions and because of that she had prevented the family from finding out what was really wrong with her. The hospital had claimed that a blood toxicology had been ordered and taken but that a mix up with personnel leaving for another job had prevent the results from reaching the doctors. With that said the suit argued that had the doctors gotten the results they would have seen that Raymond had an unusually high amount of arsenic in his system and could have either attempted to save him, preventing his death or would have been able to catch Blanche sooner. Because a civil suit can obtain much more information than a criminal case the prosecutors made a deal with the lawyers in the civil suit and was able to use some of their information in their criminal case. In essence the lawyers from the civil suit worked as investigators in a way for the prosecution.
The prosecution showed that Blanche had a long and shady history. She claim that her father was an alcoholic who had forced her into prostitution to pay his gambling debts. The prosecution would claim she despised her father because of this. His initial cause of death in 1966 was listed as a heart attack and in the end, while his exhumed body showed evidence of higher than normal levels of arsenic it could not be said that was his ultimate cause of death. Blanche would marry James Taylor in January of 1952 and the couple would have two children. In 1954 Blanche began working at Kroger and this is where she met Raymond Reid. He was the manager of the store she worked at and they began an affair in 1962. It was said that Blanche worked her way up to “head cashier” at the store, the equivalent of “customer service” in more modern language today and that was considered to be the highest level job available to a woman at the time. I am sure the fact that her boyfriend was the store manager did not hurt any.
In October of 1973 James Taylor would die. There is not a lot of information about any kind of symptoms he may have had prior to his death, but like her father several years before, James' cause of death would initially be listed as a heart attack. After his exhumation in 1989 that cause of death was changed when not only were extreme levels of arsenic found in his body, a coroner determined they were of lethal levels and had been the true cause of death. After James' death Blanche and Raymond would go public with their romance. The two would never marry but dated it seems until about 1985 when for at least public knowledge they were no longer a couple. This was the same year that it was said Blanche had accused “an unknown pervert” of starting two fires that damaged her mobile home. I only saw one or two references to this and neither went into great detail other than to say that it was believed that Blanche herself had started them. I can only assume that they were for insurance reasons.
Soon after she and Raymond split up, or at least they wanted the public to think they had, Blanche reportedly started dating a regional manager at Kroger named Kevin Denton. It doesn't appear that the two dated very long but when it ended she filed a sexual harassment suit against him and Kroger in October of 1985. Denton resigned and after two years in litigation Kroger settled the claim for $275,000. In the meantime however Blanche had met Rev. Dwight Moore. They had to keep their romance secret for a while though because in her suit against Kroger Blanche had claimed that because of the harassment she could “no longer have meaningful social contact with the opposite sex” and she did not want to ruin her chances of getting a settlement. It was during all of this time that Raymond Reid began getting sick and eventually died.
Blanche and Dwight Moore had planned to marry but it was delayed twice. The first time was in 1987 (presumably after she got her settlement) when Blanche was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her recovery the couple planned to marry in November of 1988 but Moore mysteriously got sick this time with what was only described as an “intestinal ailment” that required two surgeries. The couple finally tied the knot on April 19, 1989 and by the end of the month Moore was in the hospital fighting for his life.
After her arrest and subsequent charges Blanche had told the investigators that both Raymond Reid and Dwight Moore suffered from depression and she suggested that the men had ingested the arsenic themselves. Of course few people bought that the men a) were so depressed that they were suicidal and b) that they would attempt to kill themselves with arsenic, a toxin known to cause an agonizing death.
On November 14, 1990, after six hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict of guilty against Blanche Taylor-Moore. Three days later, after another four hours they decided she deserved the death penalty. Two months after that the judge agreed with them when he sentenced her to death. As of 2018 Blanche Taylor-Moore remains on death row in North Carolina. It is not clear whether she has ever even been close to having an execution date. As of 2015 it was said that at the age of eighty-two she was the oldest living person on North Carolina's death row. It seems unlikely that she will ever be executed since North Carolina has not executed anyone since 2006. In fact, as I mentioned early on, since she has been a resident of not just the state, but of their death row, Blanche has apparently once again had cancer that was treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Now, I am sure the state did not force her to have the treatments. In fact, it was the state that was likely forced to provide them but likely because she wanted them. She continues to maintain her innocence but everyone one of her appeals have failed. I have no fear that if she would be successful in an appeal and there was a possibility of her being released that the state would come in with some more charges.
Dwight Moore went on to remarry and moved to Virginia. He died of what was said to be natural causes in 2013. One of the co-prosecutors in Blanche's trial, Vince Rabil now advocates against the death penalty. He has stated that while he did believe then that Blanche deserved the death penalty for her crimes he now cites issues with the costs of appeals and the time in which it takes to actually send someone to the death chambers as his reasons for being against it now. It seems that in 2010 when Blanche and almost every other death row inmate in North Carolina filed with the courts to have their death sentences converted to life based off a law of some sort (they failed) both Dwight Moore and Vince Rabil stated they would have no issue if her sentence was commuted.
It appears that mental illness played a bit of a role in this case and I do not mean from Blanche herself although you would get little argument from me if you thought to do the things she did she would have to have some sort of mental illness. No, the people I am talking about her are one of Blanche's former lawyers, David Tamer and the lead prosecutor, Janet Branch. Tamer would later be convicted of embezzlement for misappropriating funds of his clients, including Blanche. It was mentioned, without detail, that he had a history of mental issues. Then there was Janet Branch. In fact, during Blanche's trial it was said that Branch often began to cry while presenting the case, something the defense used to argue for a mistrial throughout. She eventually left the prosecutors office and opened her own law office. She had been married previous and had a disabled daughter. Upon their divorce her ex husband was granted custody, some say due to Branch having a mental breakdown. She would later remarry but it was unclear the status of that marriage in October of 2015. She went to a friends house one night speaking of taking pills and apparently depressed. The following morning as she was driving down the highway she veered her car into the median, got out and walked into traffic. The coroner would rule her death a suicide.
Yet with all of this death all around her Blanche Taylor-Moore still sits in prison. She's nearing eighty-five years old and after at least two bouts of cancer seems to keep on trucking.