Inquest is Closed by New Clue

Washington Times/February 4 1922

Coroner’s Jury Renders Formal Verdict After Detective Chief Rushes Officers Away


LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4.—An early solution of the mysterious murder of William D. Taylor, famous motion picture director, shot down in his fashionable bungalow home here Wednesday while he sat at a desk with a checkbook before him, was promised today.

Captain of Detectives David L. Adams announced to the International News-Service:

“The meshes of the net spread by the police department are slowly closing on a man whom we strongly suspect of having been responsible for Taylor’s murder. I expect an arrest will be made within twenty-four hours which will go a long way toward clearing up the case.

“The probably motive of this individual, so far as my investigators have been able to determine, was solely that of revenge. Whether the activities of the man were guided by a woman or women will have to be determined later.”


Servant Collapses


Henry Peavey, negro servant of Taylor, collapsed when taken into the morgue room to view the body just before the inquest started. He was revived, called to the witness stand and there became hysterical, laughing loudly when asked what he did upon finding the dead body of his employer.

Coroner Nance suddenly halted the inquest after calling but one of the many motion picture celebrities summoned, Mabel Normand and several officials.

The jury then retired and returned a verdict that Taylor was killed “by a gunshot wound inflicted by a person or persons unknown to this jury with intent to kill or murder.”

Captain of Detectives Adams reached the scene just as the last witness was excused. He rushed in, summoned Detectives Herman Cline, Edward King, and other officers present. the police sped away from the scene in a powerful automobile.

Vigorous efforts were made by detectives to gather more data regarding Taylor’s relations with two film actresses, whose names were mentioned often by investigators in connection with the case. One of the actresses is a woman of national reputation as a screen player.

Tiffany, who was chauffeur for Taylor until recently, was said to have told police that he was dismissed shortly after he told Taylor that he believed he would keep a record of the trips on which he took his employer.

Tiffany was reported to have stated that the relations between Taylor and Mary Miles Minter cooled after a time and that on a number of occasions Sands told her when she called that Taylor was not at home, although in fact Taylor was, Tiffany was reported to have said.

Taylor devoted much time to Mabel Normand, Tiffany said. When Tiffany left Taylor’s employ Miss Normand held a high place in Taylor’s estimation, the former chauffeur said.

Prominent celebrities of the screen world were assembled this morning for the coroner’s inquest. Among these was Mabel Normand, who was at the director’s home a short time before the murder was committed; Mary Miles Minter, a friend of Taylor, who was one of the first of the film colony to reach the scene of the murder; Jesse Lasky, head of the film corporation by which Taylor was employed; and Charles Eyton, West Coast manager for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation.

The hour of the inquest was changed to 10 o’clock this morning because of the number of witnesses summoned to testify. A coroner’s jury of well-known business men has been summoned.

While police were exerting every possible influence to apprehend Sands, the former valet, who is charged with having robbed his employer’s home several months ago, the shadow of a woman continued to regain a prominent place in the official investigation of the case.

Detectives at work on the mystery are unanimous in the belief that final solution of the crime will reveal that a feminine influence played a big part in the slaying of Taylor.


Sister-in-Law Testifies


Officers today are planning to question Mrs. Ada D. Dean-Tanney, a sister-in-law of the slain director. To newspaper men late last might Mrs. Dean-Tanner, at her humble home in Monrovia, reluctantly told of her relationship to the murdered man. She told of his assuming the name of Taylor after disappearing from New York in 1908, and said he denied his family name when she called to see him a few years ago at a Hollywood motion picture studio.

Mrs. Dean-Tanner said she had called on her brother-in-law to inquire if he knew the whereabouts of her husband, Dennis Gage Dean-Tanner, who mysteriously dropped from sight in New York four years after his brother had disappeared and taken up the name of Taylor. Mrs. Dean-Tanner said she never has heard from her husband since his disappearance


Are an English Family


She stated that her husband and William Desmond Dean-Tanner were members of a prominent English family of means. The woman is now living in humble circumstances and claims to have been receiving monthly allowances from Taylor.

Police are guarding with utmost secrecy clues said to have been obtained by detectives early today. They stated that startling developments may be expected within the next twenty-four hours, but held in abeyance any further statement until the coroner’s inquest has been concluded.


Made Bank Deposit


Adding somewhat to the mystery, it was announced that on Wednesday he had deposited $2,300 in bank, and it was indicated the slain man had carried the money for a day or two before banking it.

Unless a prompt solution of the murder is forthcoming, the police said a detailed investigation into the “dim and obscure” past life of the film director will be made.

This, it was said, would lead officers into activities of the dead man over a long period of years in England, in the Klondike gold rush, in the South Seas, in the Hawaiian Islands, at Panama and in the British army.

Charles Maigne, an actor, who was a close friend of the slain man, was closeted with Capt. Charles R. Moffatt, of the detective bureau, for more than two hours.

The police refused to discuss information given by Maigne, but it was said that his statement was considered of importance.

Officials opened Mr. Taylor’s safe deposit box and found in it $5,000 in bonds, besides much mining stock. No will has yet been found.