The United States has been the center of several heartbreaking and heinous crimes over the decades, one of them being the 2017 murder of Taylor Wright by his friend Ashley McArthur, a brutal example of cold-bloodedness.
The disappearance of Taylor Wright in 2017 is the subject of the 23 April episode of the investigative series. Correspondent Keith Morrison will speak to Wright’s loved ones and her colleagues about who the private investigator was as a person. He will also describe everything that happened after her disappearance.
Ashley McArthur was the last person to be seen with Taylor Wright, who almost immediately became an interested party in the case. When Wright’s body was found, she was arrested for murder.
For more information about Ashley MacArthur’s whereabouts and more information about what exactly happened to Taylor Wright, keep reading.
Who is Ashley Britt McArthur?
Ashley worked as a crime scene technician and was reportedly the best friend of a murder victim. Taylor, a 33-year-old private investigator, and a former police officer were going through a divorce. She withdrew USD 100 000 from a joint account with her then-husband Jeff Wright. She then gave MacArthur more than USD 30 000 to keep safe for her.
What happened to Taylor Wright?
Taylor was initially thought to have disappeared. At the time, her spouse, Cassandra, informed officials that she had not seen her partner since 8 September 2017. They had been texting until 11.20 p.m., but then Taylor stopped replying.
Later that evening, at around 20.00, Cassandra received a text message from Taylor’s phone saying that she needed time to sort her life out. Officials said MacArthur had texted her cousin, asking if he would be at the farm that day. (He had gone to a funeral).
In an interview with police, McArthur said that both the victim and she had gone to the family property to ride the horses. An hour later, they went back to MacArthur’s house, from where Taylor allegedly took an Uber to a bar.
The former technician continued: “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, and never made it anything other than–She’s always carrying weapons whether it’s knives, or guns, or whatever. She’s not an easy target.”
But mobile phone records showed otherwise. So when officers followed the trail, they found Taylor’s body hidden on another farm owned by the MacArthur family on Britt Road in northern Pensacola.
She had been shot in the back of the head and then hidden under the soil in pots and concrete. MacArthur’s bank records also painted the picture perfectly. Taylor’s bank account was credited with a cashier’s cheque in Taylor’s name for 34 000 dollars. The money was then spent, and allegedly MacArthur even bought a boat for Brendon Beatty, a man with whom she had an affair.
Prosecutors said that when Taylor confronted MacArthur about the money, it was the last time the victim was heard. Surveillance camera footage from Sept. 9, 2017, also shows the former crime scene technician purchasing potting soil and concrete from Home Depot.
Prosecutor Bridget Jenson pointed out that the different behavior of McArthur in the two different police encounters mattered – “If you look at the first interview she was flirty, maybe a little playful with law enforcement. In the second interview, her demeanor was different. I think she knew she was caught.”
Witnesses came forward at the hearing and confirmed that MacArthur had spoken about killing Taylor in other incidents. Audrey Warne, a local bartender and also one of MacArthur’s friends, testified, “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.“
But MacArthur’s lawyer, John Beroze, said his client had no financial problems. His opening statement was: “There will be no physical evidence introduced in this trial to show you that Ashley McArthur had anything to do with the death of Taylor Wright.” He explained that the type of bullet that killed Taylor could not be linked to any of the weapons that had been presented in evidence, thus minimizing the presence of the murder weapon in MacArthur’s arsenal. In addition, he also mentioned Taylor’s alleged drug use and examined the victim’s mental state.
Where is Ashley Britt McArthur Today?
Bridget Jenson told the jury, “Ladies and gentlemen, Ashley McArthur had motive, Ashley McArthur had an opportunity, Ashley McArthur killed Taylor Wright and then tried to cover it up with lies, concrete, and potting soil.” The prosecution repeated throughout the trial that the motive was financial.
It was pointed out that the defendant was at a wedding in Alabama when Taylor’s phone also pinged from a nearby tower (suggesting that MacArthur had kept a friend’s phone).
She Was Found Guilty of 1st-Degree Murder & Sentenced to Life in Prison.
MacArthur was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide on August 30, 2019, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The 43-year-old is currently serving her sentence at the Louella Correctional Facility, also known as the Louella Annex, according to public records.
The Annex is a women’s prison with a capacity of 1 500 inmates located in Ocala, Florida, northwest of Orlando.
Prosecutors argued that MacArthur killed Wright for financial gain and presented motive and opportunity to jurors during the weeklong trial, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
She Was Also Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Other Unrelated Crimes, Including Fraud
In March 2018, while she was out on bail ahead of her trial for Wright’s murder, McArthur was convicted of arson, racketeering, and fraud for separate incidents that occurred before Wright’s murder, CourtTV reported. According to investigators, MacArthur stole thousands from local businesses between 2015 and 2017 while running her family’s business, Pensacola Automatic Amusement.
On the day McArthur was scheduled to meet with businesses about their lost revenue at Pensacola Automatic Amusement, a fire broke out, leading to arson charges against McArthur.
In January 2019, McArthur was convicted of racketeering and organized fraud, but not arson, and sentenced to seven years in prison, public documents show.
McArthur Appealed the Verdict but the First District Court of Appeal in the State of Florida Upheld Her Conviction
MacArthur appealed her conviction to the First District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida, but the court upheld her conviction and sentence on 16 April 2021.
MacArthur alleged that the jurors were unfairly prejudiced when they were accidentally shown a photograph of her holding and pointing a firearm. She also argued that her statements to investigators and mobile phone records should not have been included in the evidence.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal wrote that the first instance court did not err in allowing this evidence to be heard and also added that the photograph of the shooting “was not so offensive as to overturn the entire trial”. It explained that additional evidence during the trial showed that MacArthur owned the firearms, held them in his hands, and was dressed in camouflage clothing.
It is currently unclear whether MacArthur’s legal team will seek another trial over her conviction.