Crammed Into a Crawl Space: The Unsolved Murder of John Taylor

Police have appealed for the public’s help in finding out who killed the Staten Island teenager.

Verity Partington


John Taylor, murdered in 2000

The New York Police Department has released a picture of a young man who was murdered more than 20 years ago in the hope of generating new tips to crack the cold case.

John Taylor was just 19 when his girlfriend reported him missing on January 4th 2000, and it seemed as though he had simply disappeared into thin air.

He had last been seen at a building on 70 Broad Street on Staten Island, where he had been provided with housing as part of a project designed to support the homeless.

Police carried out a search at the property and came upon an ominous patch of blood, but there was no further sign of John and no leads generated as a result, the Staten Island Advance reported.

Then, more than ten years later, an extreme weather event finally revealed the missing man’s whereabouts.

Tropical Storm Irene tore through the island in 2011 and caused major flooding to many buildings, including the block located at 70 Broad Street. It was by now owned by a private landlord, and he brought in contractors to make a start on repairing some of the damage.

On September 1st 2011, contractor Giuseppe Lafata pulled up a water-logged carpet and found a trap door that led to a crawl space beneath the property. After pumping out yet more water, he got the shock of his life when he discovered bones and a human skull in the three-foot space.

I freaked out, you know. I go to the Fire Department next door, and they said you’ve got to call the police,” he told SILive.

He followed their advice and investigators arrived to find the still-clothed bones had an ID with them that bore the name John Taylor. The missing man had never left the building in which he was last seen.

The death was ruled a homicide following the discovery of stab wounds to the torso, and police at the time speculated the death may have come as a result of an argument over drugs. At some point, the crawl space had contained narcotics and the project was known for illegal drug activity.



Verity Partington

A writer and author of crime thrillers living in the UK. Partial to books, stationery, papercrafts and walking. You can find her books on Amazon here: https://a