CALDWELL, Idaho — Nearly two years after a Nampa man fatally beat, stabbed and strangled his elderly parents and hid their bodies in a shed behind their own home, the magnitude of the loss is still rippling outward for the family members left behind.
William Taylor's daughter, now 18, could not bring herself to attend her father's murder sentencing Tuesday.
His sister described feeling haunted by the violent details of how her parents met their end, and the knowledge that her own brother was responsible.
His sons, 8 and 12, have asked their mother if they can change their last name, an attempt to distance themselves from their father and what he had done.
"I don't have adequate words to tell you the impact of this crime on my children," Jennifer Beazer, Taylor's ex-wife and the mother of his boys, told the judge through tears. "They won't come here. They don't ask about him. They don't want to see pictures of him."
"They want to go fishing with Paul," she said.
Taylor, 50, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for the September 2017 murders of Paul and Mary "Jane" Taylor, both 76. Family members say the couple had allowed Taylor, who was struggling with alcohol problems and unemployment, to move in with them after he was charged with a misdemeanor DUI.
Although it still remains unclear what motivated Taylor to kill his parents, Prosecutor Ellie Somoza said, the savagery of the attack was evident.
Paul Taylor had been strangled in his bed with such force that a bone in his throat had snapped, then beaten with a blunt object enough times to leave a hole in his skull. Jane Taylor had been beaten, stabbed 11 times in the neck, and had her throat slashed.
"He killed them in the most violent manner imaginable," Somoza said.
Surveillance cameras at stores in Nampa captured images of Taylor buying cleaning supplies, trash bags, tape, and a padlock. He told a neighbor his parents were out of town, then left Nampa himself days after the murders in his father's pickup truck.
The bodies were discovered inside the shed by a relative Sept. 14, 2017. Inside the home, police found blood and drag marks, along with a blood-soaked towel and pillow, tarps and a T-shirt belonging to Taylor in the trash can. In the defendant's bedroom, investigators found a large pool of blood and a list that read "Shave, Shower, City Council, Crime," according to court documents.
Deputies found Taylor, who had swapped out the license plates on his father's truck with stolen plates, in Oregon the same day the bodies were discovered. During an interview after he was taken into custody, detectives noted that Taylor still had blood on his shoes.
But despite the murder convictions, Taylor has denied killing his parents, instead insisting he had simply found them dead and left Nampa because he was unsure what to do. He also declined to participate in a pre-sentence investigation, leaving the court and grieving family members alike with little insight into why the couple was slain.
Tammy Mayer, the daughter of the victims and Taylor's sister, described her parents as "happy, loving, kind people."
Paul, who was a track coach for years at Northwest Nazarene University, was an avid fisherman who once caught a catfish and brought it back alive for his grandkids to marvel at - then drove back to the lake to return the fish to its home, she remembered. Even after physical limitations curtailed his ability to play golf, a game he loved, he made routine trips to the Centennial Golf Course to play cards with his friends.
Jane met up often with her own group of friends, and was devoted to helping others, Mayer said. The pair had even planned ahead for their own eventual deaths, writing out a will and pre-paying for their cremations.
"Neither mom or dad wanted to be a burden to me or anyone else," Mayer said. "We will remember them for how they lived, not how they died."
Wendy Coffman, Taylor's first ex-wife and mother of his daughter, agreed - even after her divorce from their son, Paul and Jane made it clear she was still family, she said. The couple made good on that promise, helping her install sprinklers and taking her daughter on camping and fishing trips.
"I want justice that gives Jane and Paul back what they didn't get to decide - that's how they would leave this earth," she said. "He took that from them, and he took them from us."
The murders have been a cloud over even what should be happy times in her daughter's life, like her graduation in May, which came within weeks of the end of Taylor's trial, Coffman said.
"I know that when she graduated from high school that she was looking for them and for Willie," she said. "She looked like a ghost attending her own graduation."
Beazer, Taylor's second ex-wife, said her sons are in therapy, but still struggle to make sense of what happened to their grandparents.
"They just want to be kids, and William took that away from them," she said. "I know there are bits of them that still love their dad. That's allegedly hardwired in us. But they're hurt. They're hurt so deep and so raw."
The prosecutor urged the judge to hand down a sentence of life without parole, warning that a lesser sentence could allow Taylor to someday emerge from prison to target someone else or further traumatize his family.
"He killed the two people who were most helping him and most supportive of him in the world," Somoza said. "I don't know what deterrence could exist."
But defense attorney Ryan Dowell asked for leniency, arguing that Taylor is not a "career criminal."
"For the great majority of his life he has been a law-abiding citizen," Dowell said, pointing to Taylor's previous jobs as a police officer, juvenile probation officer and teacher. Taylor's only criminal history before the murders consisted of a DUI and a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace.
Dowell also argued that Taylor's mental health issues - he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and has attempted suicide, the lawyer said - as well as his struggles with alcohol addiction should be taken into account.
"Even if you give him 20 years, he's going to be 70 before he is even eligible [for parole,]" Dowell said. "Grant him the opportunity in the future to possibly be released."
But Judge Gene Petty decided otherwise.
"Your family likely wonders, and I wonder today why you did this," the judge told Taylor, who declined to make a statement before the sentence was handed down.
But for all that remains unexplained, some things are clear the judge said: That Taylor was the person that killed the victims, and that in doing so, he had robbed their family and community of a "clearly beloved and cherished" couple.
Petty sentenced Taylor to two separate fixed life terms for the two murders, as well as five years in prison for each of the two charges of failure to notify authorities of a death, all but guaranteeing he will die in prison. In addition, Taylor is barred from having any contact with his surviving family members.
"The taking of another's life calls for a serious sentence," Petty said. "You should spend the rest of your life behind bars."