BY ALAN SMITH
When the tragedy which gripped Ringgold county Friday really began is hard to say.
Bob Taylor, 40, and Lori Yeager, 45, had problems in the past -- including a conviction for domestic abuse on Taylor’s part at one point.
Somehow the turmoil boiled over to take the first life very early Friday morning.
It was 2:06 a.m. when a 911 call came into the Ringgold County Law Enforcement Center. Taylor and Yeager’s nine-year-old daughter Kylee was calling for help from the family residence at 2339 280th Street, four miles south of Mount Ayr.
When the Ringgold county sheriff’s officer arrived Yeager was dead from a gunshot and Taylor had left the residence, leaving his daughter behind.
Decatur county and Lamoni police were the next to arrive on the scene to offer their aid.
Then the manhunt began.
In the next hours more than 30 officers from Iowa and Missouri were directly involved.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation was called in and the Iowa Highway Patrol. Law enforcement officials in Worth and Harrison counties in Missouri were also alerted.
Seven people from the DCI were soon on hand -- five agents and two evidence techs. A search warrant was received so that all the i’s would be dotted and t’s crossed in case this was a murder that would go to trial.
As soon as the sun was up, the Iowa State Patrol plane was in the air and stayed up for five hours searching around southern Iowa for signs of Taylor and the copper-colored 2008 Ford F350 Super Duty pickup he was driving.
A host of Iowa Highway Patrol troopers also arrived to help with the investigation and search.
Soon the media was notified about the early-morning death and the search for Taylor. An arrest warrant for Taylor on a charge of first- degree murder was issued.
Phone calls began to come into the Ringgold County Law Enforcement Center from people who thought they might know where Taylor might flee.
“We were thankful that people tried to help though none of the tips actually turned out to be places where Taylor was,” Ringgold county sheriff Mike Sobotka said.
The DCI was interviewing multiple people as well, trying to figure out what had happened and where Taylor might have gone.
Throughout the community the word spread. The Mount Ayr Community school was notified and precautions taken, though Kylee would not be coming to school.
Lori Yeager had been an employee in the Head Start program at the Family Resource Center, so the trauma was already being felt by staff there as well.
Word spread through the community. Murder is so uncommon in Ringgold county it seems unthinkable. There have only been two murders in the county in the past 30 years -- one a young Omaha man killed in a drug deal and left in a field to be found months later and an elderly former school teacher killed in a robbery in the 1980s.
The rest of the tragedy was played out late Friday afternoon along a stretch of Interstate 29 two miles south of the intersection with Highway 2, that runs from Mount Ayr to the Iowa-Nebraska border.
A Fremont county deputy sheriff spotted the pickup, parked alongside the Interstate 29 near the eight mile marker.
According to the Fremont county sheriff, the deputy pulled over and began to approach the vehicle. Taylor opened his pickup door, faced the deputy and then shot himself. He died from the self-inflicted gunshot.
The tragic day had come to a conclusion for Yeager and Taylor, but not for the family and friends they left behind. Or for the community shaken by the events of the day.
The Ringgold County Ministerial Association held a well-attended candlelight vigil Sunday night at the First Christian Church in Mount Ayr in memory of the couple and the healing that needed to begin.
Several prayers were offered and candles burned, music played, tears were shed and comforting support given. The song “I Can Only Imagine” was among the songs played, wondering what it will be like to come into the presence of Christ after death.
For some it was hard to imagine what had brought all this heartache to two families and the community at large.
“These were tragic events for all of Ringgold county,” sheriff Mike Sobotka said. “We wish for better outcomes but we have certainly had our share of tragedies in the past few months in Ringgold county.” He was referencing the deaths of two young people in tragic accidents.
“Kylee, Maisie and Brett have all lost parents, people have lost friends, familes have lost loved-ones,” Sobotka said.
Sobotka noted, however, that the Ringgold county community somehow comes together in support everytime people in the area meet with tragedy.
“I know people will pull together to get us through this tough time as well,” he said.
The funeral service for Lori Yeager was set for Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Roberson-Polley Chapel in Albany, MO, where her parents live. An obituary is included in today’s Mount Ayr Record-News.
Funeral service for Bob Taylor was set for Friday. Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. at Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr. His obituary will be included in next week’s Mount Ayr Record-News.