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Waynesboro Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Child Porn - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Waynesboro Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Child Porn

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The complex and disturbing case of Thomas Neal Tait finally came to an end Thursday afternoon in a Waynesboro courtroom. Just four days after he admitted killing his wife, a judge sentenced Tait to 30 years for having nearly 500,000 images of child pornography.

Waynesboro police investigating child porn possession never thought they'd discover the key to solving a "Jane Doe" murder case. The seemingly unrelated files came together, and have now resulted in a pair of 30-year prison terms in two different states - Virginia and West Virginia.

Tait, 52, kept his head down and his back to the courtroom as prosecutors told of hundreds of thousands of child porn images on Tait's home computers.

"This case shocks the conscience of the court," said Waynesboro Circuit Court Judge Humes Franklin.

"It's absolutely the worst set of pornography I've seen in my life. Just awful, beyond description how bad it was," said Jim Camblos, assistant commonwealth's attorney.

The pornography turned out to be just the beginning of Tait's crimes.

While investigating the case, Waynesboro detective Alyssa Campbell asked the suspect about his wife, Karen Santillan Tait. His cagey reply led to a search that reached out to Karen's family in the Philippines.

"We got lots of agencies involved, lots of assistance with the embassy and the consulates. It's been countless hours. It's been continuous for approximately two years now," said Campbell.

Police and prosecutors say Campbell helped close two major crimes. 

"The case that she worked up here, I can only say it's remarkable how much effort she put into it," said Sgt. W. A. Pendleton of West Virginia State Police.  

That effort allowed police to get a DNA sample for Karen Tait,  a cold hit for the body found in a West Virginia state forest in 2002.

Tait pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday, and was sentenced to 30 years, But West Virginia's parole laws could have had him free in as little as 10 years. Judge Franklin ordered an equal sentence for the child porn convictions.

Tait will serve his time in Virginia where there is no chance of parole.

"I believe he needs to spend the rest of his life in prison. Thirty years is more than fair," said Sgt. Pendleton.

Prosecutors say Tait has shown no remorse throughout these cases, and they compared his behavior to that of a psychopath.

The prison terms will be served as the same time, but Tait will still be close to 80 years old before his release.

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