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Family of shooting victim uses social media to spotlight unsolved case

POSTED: July 3, 2014 12:30 a.m.

Unhappy with a situation, 19-year-old Andrea Tilmuth did what has become an ubiquitous part of the online presence: She wrote a bad review.

“I really wanna give y’all no stars at all,” she wrote on the public Facebook page, for almost 4,000 fans to see.

The business? A local law enforcement agency.

“It’s been over half a year and a murderer is still roaming the streets ... While my cousin is six feet under,” she continued on the Gainesville Police Department page.

Rashawn Miguel Taylor, 24, was found Dec. 21 in the 1800 block of Tulip Drive off Floyd Road. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office said he was shot.

As anxiety grows over unsolved homicides, mourning friends and family take to social media to make their frustrations known, and hopefully provoke action on the part of investigators. And Tilmuth, who grew up with Shawn, as he was known, said she felt the case was not being made a priority. Seeing posts about smaller crimes getting solved stung.

“I had seen the police department on Facebook asking the community for help with petty theft, stuff like that, so I don’t understand why you can’t ask the community for help with a homicide,” she said.

The police response — which also clarified that they are not the investigating agency — was not satisfactory, she said.

“Their response was along the lines of, ‘Well, if your stuff was stolen, wouldn’t you want that person caught?’ Well, yeah, but my cousin was killed,” Tilmuth said.

Deputy Nicole Bailes, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said investigators are still “very actively engaged” in Taylor’s case. Leads are still being followed, and the office encourages anyone with information to reach out. Anonymous tips can be made at 770-503-3232.

But Karen Taylor, Shawn’s mother, said she felt nothing was being done.

“Whoever did this to him, just to walk away and have this feeling that they’re just going to get away with it, it’s like nobody cares enough,” she said.

The experience is sadly familiar, she said.

“It’s just like my brother. They did a little search, and it was on the news for just a glimpse. Rudolph Taylor. He’s been missing for 11 years now,” she said. “I don’t have any faith in the justice system. I don’t think they’re doing their job. I think they can do better.”

Tilmuth said the family is kept in the dark on developments, another reason for an assertive, proactive approach, including social media.

“If we don’t ask, we don’t know,” she said.

Samantha Taylor, Shawn’s sister, said her brother was a “loving,” “giving” and “enthusiastic being for life.”

“I couldn’t imagine why someone would want to take his life, and it still doesn’t sit right with me,” she said.

She said there are people involved who have evaded custody with little follow-up.

“They have speculated a number of people who (were) involved but no one is being questioned or arrested for anything when they have evidence,” she said.

Fearing her brother’s case will “go cold,” she said she has tried to keep his name and case prominent in peoples’ minds, including her own review on the police department page that garnered dozens of comments.

Karen Taylor said the case was not handled well from the outset, including circulating a be-on-the-lookout for a car that was, at the time of the incident, in an auto repair shop.

“They made it sound like it was a maroon Nissan Altima involved. ... That car wasn’t even missing,” she said.

Rather, she said, surveillance capturing Shawn’s last known whereabouts showed him getting into a black SUV.

“That’s the car they should have been on the lookout for. But they mentioned nothing about that,” she said.

“I just don’t understand,” she added. “I know it takes awhile before they might have a suspect, but they had a lot of information to go on. A lot of people were going up there and telling them what they know.”

She said Shawn didn’t harbor animosity with others.

“Shawn was not a confrontational person. He was calm-natured. Everybody got along with Shawn. That’s why I was shocked when he was killed,” she said.

He had an entrepreneur’s mindset, with ambitious plans.

“He had a lot of ideas, business ideas,” she said, including a clothing line and a skating park. “He didn’t get to do any of that.”

He was a happy child and an affectionate son, she said.

“He never came in the house, and he never leaves, without giving a kiss on the cheek,” she said.

“I’m just at a loss, just dealing with the fact that my son is dead.”


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