Foreword by Candice DeLong
When I was first contacted by Lauri Taylor about investigating her mother’s unsolved murder, I remember being skeptical (an occupational hazard in law enforcement). FBI profilers have a well-developed sense of skepticism about the tales we are told and those who tell them. We question everything and everyone. It is, after all, part of how we go about solving mysteries.
My first impression was that Lauri was in way over her head. A murder in Mexico meant that she was dealing with not one government crime-solving agency, but two. Lauri was not in any way qualified to do this work. She told me she had been in sports marketing, and that she was now an Orange County housewife—occupations in which people do not generally develop the skills needed to solve an international criminal case. But then I remembered, “Well, I used to be a nurse, for Pete’s sake,” and Lauri is nothing if not persuasive.
Laypeople fantasize about catching a thief or trapping a murderer in a web of lies. From books like Sherlock Holmes, board games like “Clue,” and TV shows like CSI, it’s easy to think of crime solving like a puzzle or a game of wits. But real-life crime solving isn’t like that at all. It takes interminable patience, impeccable organization, a sharp memory, a relentless desire to find the truth, and an unwillingness to take no for an answer. Most people simply don’ have these skills, and besides, most criminal investigators don’t have the desire, time, or clearance to allow a private citizen into an investigation in any real way. Doing so could slow down the process, lead them astray, or put them in danger—either actual physical danger or legal danger.
Lauri Taylor is the only exception to this rule that I ever encountered. She slowly proved to me and my fellow law-enforcement professionals in San Diego, California, and Mexico exactly how serious she was, exactly how respectful of the law and the investigative process she was, and exactly how determined she was to solve her mother’s murder. Lauri swayed me, and in the end, I agreed to work with her. Being a retired FBI agent allowed me to make my own rules, and this case seemed worthy.
Somewhere in the midst of the investigation, I remember telling Lauri that she would have made a great FBI agent—she definitely has the chops. In the end we were lucky enough to solve the murder, but it came with a disturbing and painful price. Solving the mystery of a loved one’s murder can be a mixed blessing. The truth may not be what you hoped to find, or what you imagined it might be.
During our years of working together, Lauri and I also became friends. But when she told me that she was writing this story, I was—again—skeptical. I thought that she might write something akin to a personal journal, a private account of what transpired, a few key memories. I eventually forgot about her plan until she came to me with a finished manuscript and asked me to give it a read.
Lauri’s tale is masterfully written, a Rembrandt among memoirs. The Accidental Truth is the story of a woman’s devotion to solve her mother’s murder, despite overwhelming odds and inter-national obstacles, and then dealing with the awful truth. It is woven together like a spellbinding crime thriller or a keep-you-up past-midnight novel. When I turned the final page, I cried, not only for the story itself, but in honor of Lauri having told it so well. I’d be lying if I let you think that this book is just another true crime story, because it’s so much more than that. The Accidental Truth is a gripping account of a mother’s sudden and violent death, her family’s journey toward a painful discovery, and a devoted daughter’s deliverance. It is a riveting tale—and I dare you to stop turning the pages.
—Candice DeLong, Former FBI Profiler, Author, Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI and host of Investigation Discovery Channel’s Deadly Women and Facing Evil with Candice DeLong