Taylor Wright, a private investigator and former North Carolina cop, was 33 years old when she disappeared on September 8, 2017, in Pensacola, Florida. Wright stopped responding to her partner’s texts mid-morning and later that night she got a message from her phone saying she needed time to sort out her life.
The Pensacola Police Department opened a missing person’s report but did not suspect foul play, as Public Information Officer Mike Wood told Pensacola News Journal at the time, “We believe she left on her own accord at this point. We want to hear from her, to let us know she’s OK.”
Before she disappeared, Wright, who had been in the middle of divorce proceedings from her husband, told her girlfriend that she had taken out a large sum of money and entrusted her close friend Ashley McArthur with around $34,000. She told her partner that she had been trying to get the money back unsuccessfully and was scheduled to meet with McArthur on the day she disappeared, North Escambia reported.
Authorities Found That McArthur Spent the $34K Given to Her for Safekeeping But She Denied Involvement in Wright’s Disappearance
McArthur, a crime scene investigator, became friends with Wright about a year before Wright’s murder, authorities learned, according to CourtTV. Authorities soon discovered that McArthur was the last person to see Wright before she disappeared and they also found that she had deposited a $34,000 cheque made out to Wright into her personal checking account and spent the money, court documents show.
During McArthur’s trial, prosecutors said cell phone records placed her in the area near her family’s farm on the day Wright went missing and the following day, she was seen at Home Depot buying concrete and potting soil. Cell phone records then showed that she was back in the area of her family’s farm, CourtTV reported.
Law enforcement officials interrogated McArthur on September 15, 2017, and prosecutors described her first interview as “flirty, maybe a little playful,” according to the Daily Mail. She said she picked up Wright that morning and they went to her family property to ride horses. She said they returned to McArthur’s home and Wright left her to go to a bar.
The outlet reported that McArthur told investigators, “I don’t believe Taylor’s been harmed, I think Taylor is doing what Taylor does, but I don’t know, you know. She’s always come across as being tough. She’s always carrying weapons whether it’s knives, or guns, or whatever. She’s not an easy target.”
McArthur Had Spoken About Killing Wright Previously & Wright’s Remains Were Found on McArthur’s Family’s Property
However, one of McArthur’s friends later testified that she had been speaking about her plans to kill Wright by causing her to overdose on drugs: “She said she was going to put it [cocaine] in Taylor’s beer. She said this world would be better if Taylor wasn’t here and she wasn’t a good person, once that she was too small to hurt anybody so she’d just shoot them.”
Authorities then called McArthur back to the police station on October 19, 2017, and interrogated her while they served a search warrant at the family farm, court documents show. “After the interview, the victim’s remains were found under concrete and potting soil along the fence line of a Cantonment farm owned by McArthur’s aunt,” documents show.