RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An N.C. State employee reported seeing people run from a cemetery and finding blood on the ground before a 69-year-old man was found fatally injured last weekend.
Police said James Taylor was left for dead in a Raleigh cemetery Friday night.
Officers responded to the cemetery after receiving the 911 call around 10 p.m.
They found James Taylor suffering from serious injuries. Police didn’t say what kind of injuries the man sustained, but said he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
In a 911 call released Tuesday by Raleigh police, an N.C. State employee said he went to the cemetery to check on animals, which is routine for him.
“I work down here for the N.C. State lab and when I got here, two cars pulled away,” the caller said.
He told the dispatcher that three people ran by his car when he pulled up with one of them flipping over a fence.
“I don’t know if we was scared or inebriated,” the caller said.
The three ran to two separate vehicles, an extended cab pick-up truck that was lifted and an older model brown or blue four-door sedan, and left the scene toward Reedy Creek Road.
The caller reported finding clothes on the ground which led him to at first believe the individuals were “messing around” in the cemetery.
But he also found blood leading in to the cemetery.
He reported finding “a pair of black latex gloves, two shoes and a pair of pants and a splatter of blood about two feet wide on the ground.”
An 18-year-old-woman, Maria Pena-Echaverria, was later arrested and charged with Taylor’s murder.
Pena-Echaverria appeared before a Wake County judge on Tuesday where she was appointed a public defender.
The judge told her she faces life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted.
She was in the courtroom for less than one minute.
Her next court date is slated for June 21 at 9 a.m. She will remain behind bars without bond.
Also on Tuesday, Johnathan Daniel Villanueva-Galer, 19, was arrested and charged with murder. A 16-year-old was also taken into custody on a juvenile petition in connection with Taylor’s death.
Villanueva-Galer is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
Police said they are not releasing the cause of death at this time because they do not want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
The cemetery is difficult to spot, and adjacent to Schenck Forest. It’s located a few miles from N.C. State’s main campus, but because it’s technically on university property, an emergency alert was sent to students.
Taylor’s friends said he was well-known and loved among the community that flies model planes in the Triangle.