crime and punishment

Raleigh, North Carolina’s James Lacy Taylor dies; Maria Elizabeth Peña-Echeverria arrested

Maria Elizabeth Peña-Echeverria (©Raleigh Police Department)
Maria Elizabeth Peña-Echeverria (©Raleigh Police Department)

James Lacy Taylor of Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, United States has died. He was 69.

Aside from Raleigh, Taylor also lived in other parts of North Carolina including Apex and Youngsville. At around 10:05 p.m. on May 29, 2021, Raleigh Police Department officers found him seriously injured at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church Cemetery in Raleigh.

Adjacent to the Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest, the cemetery is difficult to spot, according to CBS17. Locally known as Schenck, the forest is managed by the North Carolina State University as a teaching and research area for students and is located about 10 minutes from the main campus of the university.

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First responders attended to Taylor and transported him to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. His death is being jointly investigated by the Raleigh Police Department and the North Carolina State University Police, which first put out a bulletin about three suspects.

“I’m enrolled at N.C. State so I got the notice of this crime yesterday evening,” North Carolina State University student Gary Jesmok told WNCN. “It was very sad to hear because I walk here a lot alone.”

Witnesses told investigators that two men and a woman left the scene in two vehicles that evening. Both vehicles, an older model brown or blue four-door sedan and an extended cab pick-up truck that was lifted, fled toward Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh, according to the witnesses.

On the evening of March 30, 2021, the Raleigh Police Department announced the arrest of Maria Elizabeth Peña-Echeverria, 18. She has been arrested charged with murder in connection with the death of Taylor.

The Raleigh Police Department did not announce whether or not Peña-Echeverria is a Raleigh resident. She was transported to the Wake County Detention Center in Raleigh.

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