Investigators think they may have solved a decade-old murder case. Just two days ago, Waynesboro and West Virginia police went looking for tips. Now, the victim's husband faces a murder charge, and could be sent across state lines to stand trial.
West Virginia police notified Waynesboro Friday that they were moving ahead in the case of Karen Santillan Tait. Police issued a warrant to charge 52-year-old Thomas Neal Tait of Waynesboro in the 2002 death of his wife, Karen. Her body was found 10 years ago in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, but was not identified as such until last month.
Thomas Tait is already jailed in Waynesboro, after pleading guilty to 20 counts of possessing child pornography. A yearlong investigation led to his arrest, and investigators say some images on his computer were of children younger than age 2. Questions raised during that case revealed that his wife had been missing for over a decade.
September 2002 was the last time anyone saw Karen alive, but Waynesboro police had no reason to look for her until an investigation of her husband raised red flags. It took help from West Virginia State Police, the FBI, Interpol and even the Philippine government just to confirm her fate.
Karen immigrated to the United States in 2000, gave birth soon after, and lived with her husband and child in a duplex on Fairfax Avenue in Waynesboro. At the age of 23, Karen vanished, but almost no one knew she was missing.
In a press conference earlier this week, Captain Kelly Walker with Waynesboro police said, "Thomas Tait told investigators that Karen simply left, and he presumed that she had returned to her family in the Philippines."
Police went public on Wednesday with details about Karen's disappearance. Despite a murder charge being filed, officers say there's plenty of work to do.
Sgt. Brian Edwards with Waynesboro police said, "We're still looking for that time frame of when she went missing, back in the early part of the last decade. So there's still a lot of unanswered questions."
Waynesboro police especially want to hear from anyone who knew Thomas or Karen Tait, or lived near their duplex on the 900 block of Fairfax Avenue, roughly 10 to 12 years ago.
Thomas Tait is jailed in Verona, where he'll be served with a fugitive warrant soon after the Thanksgiving holiday. The next step is an extradition hearing, followed by a trip to West Virginia to face the murder charge.