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How An Orange County Housewife Uncovered The Truth Behind Her Mother's Death

The cover of the book, "The Accidental Truth, What My Mother's Murder Investigation Taught Me About Life," by Lauri Taylor.
SelectBooks, Inc.
The cover of the book, "The Accidental Truth, What My Mother's Murder Investigation Taught Me About Life," by Lauri Taylor.
How An Orange County Housewife Uncovered The Truth Behind Her Mother's Death
How An Orange County Housewife Uncovered The Truth Behind Her Mother's Death GUESTS:Lauri Taylor, author, "The Accidental Truth: What My Mother's Murder Investigation Taught Me About Life,"Candice DeLong, author, "Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI"

THIS IS KPBS MIDDAY EDITION. I AM MOURNING CAVANAUGH. BUT SOMETHING IMPOSSIBLE HAPPENS TO YOUR FAMILY, YOU HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE THAN TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE. IN MARCH OF 2006, A BUSINESSWOMAN WENT MISSING. 10 DAYS LATER HER BODY WAS FOUND IN MEXICO. THE AUTHORITY SAID SHE HAD BEEN MURDERED BUT THAT WAS ALL THE INFORMATION HER CONFUSED AND GRIEF STRICKEN FAMILY WAS GIVEN. MY GUESS LORI TAYLOR SOON REALIZED SHE WANTED ANSWERS SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO FIND THEM HERSELF. IN THE PROCESS SHE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF TEAMING UP WITH A NATIONALLY KNOWN FBI PROLOGUE -- PROFILER CANDICE DELONG AND THE TRUTH TURNED OUT TO BE MORE IMPOSSIBLE THAN THEY IMAGINED. JOINING ME ARE LORI TAYLOR, THE ACCIDENTAL TRUTH. GLORY, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. CANDACE DELONG IS HERE WITH ME. SHE'S AN AUTHOR OF SPECIAL AGENT MY LIFE ON THE FRONTLINES AS WOMEN IN THE FBI. CANDACE, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM LORI, TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOTHER. WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS DID SHE HAVE. WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT HER LIFE? IT'S INTERESTING. WE KNOW A SURFACE LEVEL ABOUT OUR PARENTS MY MOTHER WAS A 69-YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER. SHE RAN CONSIGNMENT STORES. SHE DID NOT WANT TO RETIRE. SHE DID NOT WANT TO BE PUT OUT TO PASTURE. SHADOW LOVING FAMILY. SHE LOVED HER GRANDCHILDREN AND SHE ENJOYED BEING BUSINESSWOMAN AND BEING IN THIS STUFF WE WILL ON GOOD TERMS WITH YOUR MOM? I HAD NOT SPOKEN TO HER IN THREE MONTHS WHEN SHE DID AND IT WAS A VERY, VERY DIFFICULT THING TO ACCEPT. WE HAD A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP THAT I LEARNED ABOUT MORE IN THE PROCESS OF THE MURDER INVESTIGATION WHICH IS THE INVENTION -- ESSENTIALLY THE INVESTIGATION OF A LIFETIME. I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT MYSELF AND OUR RELATIONSHIP BUT A CLASSMATE GREAT GUILT WHAT DID YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THINK WHEN SHE WENT MISSING? DID YOU HAVE THEORIES OF WHERE SHE MIGHT BE OR WHERE SHE WENT? SHE HAD A HISTORY IN THE PAST OF HAVING BEEN GONE AND HER LIFE FOR PERIODS OF TIME. WE WERE TAUGHT TO PROTECT HER AND HER IMAGE AND IT WASN'T SOMETHING THAT WE WERE WILLING TO GIVE UP. WE THOUGHT SHE WOULD BE BACK IN TWO DAYS BUT SHE HAD NEVER LEFT HER BUSINESSES AND NEVER LEFT HER DOGS WITHOUT CARE. THEY WERE LEFT WITH NO FOOD AND NO CARE AND SHE WAS GONE. WHAT DID THE MEXICAN AUTHORITIES TELL YOU ABOUT HER DEATH? THE MEXICAN AUTHORITIES TOLD US INITIALLY THAT SHE HAD DIED UNDER UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND ASKED US TO COME IN -- COME AND IDENTIFY HER BODY. THEY TOLD US THAT SHE WAS BEATEN AND STRANGLED AND LEFT AND A REMOTE DESERT WASH IN YOUR BOOK YOU OUTLINE HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS TO GET INFORMATION FROM MEXICAN AUTHORITIES AND ACTUALLY SAN DIEGO AUTHORITIES ON YOUR MOTHER'S CASE. WHY IS THAT? I HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF IT NOW. IN THE MIDDLE OF IT I DID NOT UNDERSTAND IT. WE HAD SEVERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT BODIES. WITH TWO SEPARATE LANGUAGES. THERE IS BUREAUCRACY COURSE -- ACROSS THE BORDER BORDER SAFETY. INFORMATION IS NOT FREELY SHARED AND NOT EVER REALLY SHARED WITH THE FAMILY OF A VICTIM BECAUSE WE WERE ALL SUSPECTS UNTIL WE WERE PROVEN NOT TO BE SUSPECTS WE HAD TO GAIN TRUST AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS CANDACE DELONG, LAURA CONTACTED YOU AND ASK YOU TO GIVE HER A BEST GUEST THEORY ABOUT WHAT IT HAPPENED. YOU MUST GET A LOT OF INQUIRIES OF PERSONAL CASES? WHAT MADE LORI'S CASE STAND OUT? LORI. IS NOTHING IF NOT PERSUASIVE. I DID NOT WANT TO BE INVOLVED IN ANOTHER PRIVATE INVESTIGATION. I HAD JUST COME OUT OF ONE. IT IS DIFFERENT BEING RETIRED. YOU DON'T HAVE THE BADGE AND THE GUN ANYMORE. YOU CAN HAVE THE GONE BUT THE BADGE ISSUE AUTHORITY AND ACCESS. AND WHEN THAT IS GONE, THINGS ARE DIFFERENT. IT DID NOT WANT TO DO IT BUT LORI SAW ME ON TV AND WORKED HARD TO FIND ME. I'M NOT EASY TO FIND. SHE FOUND ME THROUGH MY PUBLISHER WHO SENT ME AN E-MAIL AND I WAS INITIALLY IMPRESSED WITH THAT IT'S NOT ALL THAT HARD BUT MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT ABLE TO DO IT. AND THEN WE COMMUNICATED A LOT TO E-MAILS AND I SAID OKAY I WILL TAKE A LOOK AT IT FOR FREE. BECAUSE I AM NOT GOING TO GET INVOLVED IF I DON'T THINK I CAN HELP RIGHT AS A FORMER PROFILE AND PSYCHIATRIC NURSE, WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF JANE'S DISAPPEARANCE? ONE OF THE 1st THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME WAS THAT AND THEY BELIEVE LORI YOU MIGHT RECALL THIS WAS ONE OF THE 1st THING I ASKED YOU IS HER BODY WAS FOUND 10 DAYS AFTER SHE WAS LAST KNOWN TO BE IN SAN DIEGO BUT AN AUTOPSY REVEALED IN CRIME SCENE PICTURES REVEALED SHE WASN'T KILLED. WHEN HER BODY WAS FOUND I DON'T TAKE SHE HAD BEEN DEAD 24 HOURS. MAYBE 12 AND SO I THOUGHT WELL THIS IS INTERESTING. IS SOMEONE KIDNAPPED HER AND KEPT HER FOR 10 DAYS AND THEN KILLED HER, THERE IS SOME STRANGE THINGS HERE THAT DON'T SUPPORT THAT THEORY RIGHT. TO JUICE UP AT THAT MENTAL ILLNESS MIGHT BE INVOLVED? NO. BECAUSE I DON'T THINK AND LORI AND I HAD SO MANY CONVERSATIONS I DON'T THINK LORI HAD PUT TOGETHER SOME OF THE THINGS THAT HER MOTHER'S BEHAVIOR OVER THE YEARS THAT WOULD INDICATE THAT MIGHT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO HER MOTHER'S DISAPPEARANCE AND DEATH. IT SO IT WASN'T UNTIL MUCH LATER THAT THE MENTAL ILLNESS ASPECT WEIRD IT'S UGLY HEAD LORI, GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF THE KIND OF CASE WORK YOU HAVE TO DO AND ORDER TO CONDUCT THIS INVESTIGATION. DID YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO READ POLICE FILES AND UNDERSTAND AUTOPSY REPORT? SURE. ONE OF THE 1st THINGS CANDACE RECOMMENDED THAT I DO IS SHE SAID LORI YOU HAVE ACCESS. THEY WON'T SPEAK TO ME. I'M HAPPY TO LOOK AT YOUR EVIDENCE BUT I ENCOURAGE YOU TO LOOK AT IT YOURSELF. AND I THOUGHT IF SHE HAS THE CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY TO DO AT I WILL DIG IT AND THAT DID INCLUDE LOOKING AT CRIME SCENE PHOTOS AND READING AUTOPSY REPORTS. AND INCLUDED WRITING TO INDIVIDUALS AND GOVERNMENT AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AND BEING THE SQUEAKY WHEEL AND DEVELOPING THESE RELATIONSHIPS AND THEM KNOWING THAT I WOULD CALL NEXT WEEK AGAIN TO ASK KINDLY AND I WASN'T GOING ANYWHERE UNTIL HE HAD A SUFFICIENT ANSWER. I HAD AN INTEREST IN FORENSICS, I MUST ADMIT ADMIT. I WAS IN O.J. SIMPSON FOLLOWER AND I TELL PEOPLE UNTIL YOU ARE LIVING THIS, YOU FEEL LIKE ANYTHING CAN BE SOLVED IN IN HOUR AND GENERALLY SPEAKING IS NOT IT TOOK YEARS NEARLY FOUR YEARS LORI YOU SAY THAT A MURDER INVESTIGATION BECOMES AN INVESTIGATION OF A LIFETIME. WHAT KINDS OF THINGS DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR MOM? ONE OF THE MOST SHOCKING THINGS FOR ME WAS WHEN I WENT TO MEXICO TO IDENTIFY MY MOTHER'S BODY AND THE MORE AND WE DISCOVERED THAT MY MOM HAD TATTOOS. AND NOT THAT I WOULD BE JUDGMENTAL ABOUT MY MOM HAVING TATTOOS IS WHAT THAT HAS MEANT IN HER LIFETIME AND WE THOUGHT THERE WAS A MAN INVOLVED IN HER LIFE. SEEING YOUR MOTHER AS A SEXUAL HOLE HUMAN BEING IS DIFFICULT EVEN AS AN ADULT AND IT WAS QUITE SHOCKING TO HAVE TO STEP OUT OF THE DAUGHTER ROLE IN PINK IN TERMS OF AN INVESTIGATOR RATHER THAN THE DAUGHTER IN OFTEN TIMES I WAS VERY CONFLICTED AND CANDACE AND I WERE HAVING COFFEE AND SHE SAID SOMETHING TO ME AND I SAID THE ONE THING I ALWAYS APPRECIATED ABOUT OUR WORKING RELATIONSHIP IS SHE NEVER FORGOT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT MY MOM WHAT WAS IT THE CRACKED THE CASE, KANSAS? YOU ASKED ME EARLIER, DID I HAVE ANY INKLING OF MENTAL ILLNESS OR BEING INVOLVED AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I MENTIONED CONCERNED ME IS THAT SHE WAS MISSING AND THEN SHE WAS FOUND 10 DAYS LATER BUT FRESHLY DEAD. I'M SORRY. THAT IS A FORENSIC TERM. AND WHEN I LOOKED AT THE CRIME SCENE PHOTOS, NOT AUTOPSY BUT ON THE BEACH, SOMETHING WAS UNSETTLING TO ME. I HAVE AN AUTOPSY FROM A MEDICAL EXAMINER THAT SAYS SHE WAS BEATEN AND STRANGLED AND I'M LOOKING AT PICTURES THAT ARE SAYING NO. SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING ON HERE. AND SO I WENT TO SEE THE FAMOUS FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST THAT CHANGES THINGS FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE AND I KNEW HIM AND WE SAT DOWN AND LOOKED AT THE PICTURES AND I DID NOT GIVE HIM THE BACKGROUND. I WANTED HIM TO LOOK AT THE PICTURES. I HAD THE AUTOPSY TRANSLATED BY A BILINGUAL FBI AGENT AGENT. WE HAD ALL OF THAT AND THEY DID NOT WANT HIM TO KNOW ANYTHING THAT I KNEW THEY JUST WANTED TO KNOW WHAT HE COULD COME UP WITH ON HIS EXPERIENCE OF PROFESSIONAL OPINION AND HE CAME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION I DID AND THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG AND THAT THIS NIGHT -- MIGHT NOT BE WHAT IT APPEARS AND IT MAY NOT BE WHAT THE MEDICAL LEGS -- MEDICAL EXAMINER MEXICO SAID IT WAS WAS AS IT TURNS OUT, IT WAS A SUICIDE CORRECT. WE BUILT A CIRCUMSTANTIAL CASE OVER THE YEARS AND IT WAS BASED ON EVENTUALLY TO A RELATIONSHIP THAT I DEVELOPED WITH AN INVESTIGATOR IN MEXICO -- A MEXICO -- IN MEXICO. THOSE INVESTIGATORS WORKED HARD FOR US AND THEY WERE WORKING IN THEM VACUUMS AS WORTHY INVESTIGATORS IN SAN DIEGO. THROUGH THIS INVESTIGATOR CANDACE HAD PUSHED ME TO ASK ABOUT AUTOPSY PHOTOS. THERE WEREN'T ANY FOR THE 1st THREE YEARS. SHE SAID I SURE HOPE THESE EXISTS BECAUSE THESE ARE NOT CONCLUSIVE. IT WAS THE AUTOPSY PHOTOS THAT SHOWED US THIS INJURY TO MY MOTHER THAT WE CONCLUDED WAS SUICIDE AND WHAT YOU RIGHT IN THIS BOOK IS THE SUICIDE WAS THE RESULT OF A VERY SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS THAT YOUR MOTHER HAD CORRECT. SISTERS AND I WORK RESTRICTION -- GRIEF STRICKEN AND WE WERE TOLD THIS INFORMATION AND WE WENT TO GRIEF THERAPY. IT WAS EXTRAORDINARILY HELPFUL TO ME AND MY SISTERS AND THE THERAPIST CONCLUDED THAT WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS OUR FAMILIES NORMAL WAS NOT THERAPEUTIC THE NORMAL AND THE CONCLUSION CAME THAT MY MOTHER WAS DIAGNOSED WITH BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. AND READING ABOUT IT SHE FIT EVERY PROFILE. HAD WE KNOWN MY MOTHER LIVED AT THE MENTAL ILLNESS WE WOULD'VE GOTTEN HER HELP. YOU JUST ACCEPT WHAT YOUR NORMAL IS IN THE REASON FOR WRITING THE BOOK IS SO PEOPLE MIGHT SEE IN MY MOTHER OR MYSELF AND THE THINGS I LEARNED AS A DAUGHTER THAT THEY MIGHT RECOGNIZE SOMETHING FROM THE BOOK AND THEY MAY BE ABLE TO HELP THE RELATIVES WITH HER MOTHER AS PART OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY, YOU BOTH CANDACE AND LORI HAVE BECOME QUITE GOOD FRIENDS. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT TAKING THE JOURNEY TOGETHER THAT YOU THINK BONDAGE YOU? FOR ME, THE 1st TIME I MET LORI I HAD BEEN FILMING SOMETHING FOR NBC IN LA AND I THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO MEET LORI. IT WAS INSTANT THAT HEADLIGHTS THERE. IF I HAD MET HER UNDER OTHER MORE FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, I WOULD'VE FELT THE SAME WAY. IT'S JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS. IT SOUNDS LIKE I AM IN LOVE WITH HER. [ LAUGHTER ] IT WAS JUST -- WELL, IF YOU ARE LUCKY YOU HAVE A FEW OF THOSE IN YOUR LIFE AND WE WERE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE VERY EASILY. I WAS VERY NERVOUS ABOUT THE THINGS THAT I NEEDED TO SAY OR EXPLAINED TO LORI. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HER MOM AND IT JUST WENT FROM THERE AND WE BECAME A VERY PRODUCTIVE TEAM AND LORI, BRIEFLY? FOR ME, HONESTLY, CANDACE IT WAS INSTANTANEOUS AS WELL. WE HAD AN EASY CAMARADERIE BUT CANDACE HIS BELIEF IN ME AND HER ENCOURAGEMENT CHANGED ME AS A PERSON THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY AND I WANT TO TELL PEOPLE THE NAME OF THE BOOK IS THE ACCIDENTAL TRUTH TRUTH. WHAT MY MOTHER'S MURDER INVESTIGATION TAUGHT ME ABOUT LIFE. LORI TAYLOR IS THE OFFICER. VERY INTERESTING AND THANK YOU BOTH APPRECIATE YOU HAVING ME. THANK YOU. BE SURE TO WATCH KPBS EDITION AT 5:00 AND 6:30 JOIN US AGAIN TOMORROW FOR DISCUSSIONS ON MIDDAY EDITION HERE ON KPBS THEM. I'M MAUREEN CAVANAUGH, THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

In March 2006, Vista businesswoman Jane Kling went missing. Ten days later her body was found near San Felipe, Mexico. Authorities said Kling was murdered, but that was just about all the information her confused and grief-stricken family was given.

Lauri Taylor, Kling's daughter, soon realized that if she wanted answers to her mother's death, she had to find those answers herself. She turned what she learned into a memoir, "The Accidental Truth: What My Mother's Murder Investigation Taught Me About Life."

In the process of the investigation, Taylor teamed up with nationally-known FBI profiler - Candice DeLong, who wrote the foreword to "The Accidental Truth."

"Solving the mystery of a loved one's murder can be a mixed blessing," DeLong said in the foreword. "The truth may not be what you hoped to find, or what you imagine it might be."

Taylor said when investigating you find out a person's habits and things you never knew about them.

"A murder investigation is essentially the investigation of a lifetime," said Taylor who lives in Orange County.

Taylor said she learned her mother's death was not a murder but a suicide. Her mother had dealt with a mental illness. The discovery drove her to write the book.

"My platform is mental health," Taylor said. "If we had known my mother was sick we would have gotten help for her."

Taylor said she didn't understand mental illness until her mother's death. Now, nearly 10 years later she said she thinks it's not right that it's treated differently than a physical illness.

"I would change the name from mental illness to brain illness to show there's not a choice in the matter," Taylor said.