Home Bringing closure to the story of Karen Tait

Bringing closure to the story of Karen Tait


A hiker in West Virginia found the badly decomposing remains of Karen Tait on Sept. 26, 2002, though for years the identity of the deceased was officially Jane Doe.

It wasn’t until 2011, when a Waynesboro police detective began questioning Thomas Tait in a sexual assault and child porn case, that the mystery of Jane Doe began to unravel.

Now, more than two years after the investigation that put Thomas Tait in jail for the murder of Karen Tait, the Waynesboro Police Foundation is trying to close another chapter in the story of Karen Tait.

“The only way I can describe it is bittersweet. Because you can’t make it better. You can’t fix it. I wish I could. But it’s definitely going to be a sweet feeling for them to be able to have the closure that they need,” said Alyssa Campbell, the detective who broke the case, at a press event on Tuesday through which the Waynesboro Police Foundation announced its plans for a fund drive to raise money to send Karen Tait’s remains to her family in the Philippines.

Karen Tait, then just 18, married Thomas Tait in 1997 and immigrated to the United States with him, settling in Waynesboro and eventually giving birth to a daughter. In 2002, she told her sister that she had discovered pornography of young Asian girls in her husband’s possession, and that the couple had fought over the issue.

She never again made contact with her family. Thomas Tait told people who inquired about his wife that she had left him and her daughter to return to the Philippines.

Her remains were finally identified in October 2012, and Thomas Tait was charged in her murder a month later. He pled guilty to the charge on Valentine’s Day and received a 30-year sentence that will run concurrent to his sentence on the convictions for the sexual assault and child porn charges.

Now the attention is shifting to closure for Karen’s family. Her family isn’t of the means to pay for her remains to be returned to the Philippines, an estimated $6,000 expense. Police Chief Michael Wilhelm said the effort to raise money locally to return Karen to her home has already had a “fairly substantial outpouring” from the community.

“I’m confident that we’re going to reach our goal. It will be great to bring closure to everything,” Wilhelm said. “Getting the community involved was the best thing to do. Just getting the story out there so that everybody could know what Det. Campbell, what this family has been through, and people can relate to that. It’s a true-to-life story that’s very sad. I’m just happy it’s coming to a conclusion.”

More online at www.WaynesboroPoliceFoundation.com.



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