NEW BOSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Wade Griffin‘s mother says there were red flags early on in the relationship between her son and Taylor Parker, the woman on trial for capital murder and kidnapping in the death of 21-year-old Reagan Simmons Hancock and her unborn baby.
Taylor Parker has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the October 2020 deaths of 21-year-old Regan Michelle Simmons-Hancock and the daughter who died after being cut from her mother’s womb. Authorities say Simmons-Hancock was stabbed and cut more than 100 times and had her skull crushed with a hammer in her Texas home before a scalpel was used to remove her unborn baby. She is also charged with non-capital murder in connection with the baby’s death.
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told the Bowie County jury earlier this month that Parker, 29, acted not because she wanted a baby but to keep from losing her boyfriend, Wade Griffin. Crisp said Parker disguised herself to make her look pregnant for nearly 10 months, faked ultrasounds, had a gender-reveal party and posted about her fake pregnancy on social media while searching for a possible victim, Crisp said.
Leaving the victim’s 3-year-old daughter alone with her dying mother, Parker then drove with the baby in her lap when a state trooper stopped the car and sent the child to a hospital in nearby Idabel, Oklahoma, authorities say. The child later died.
Witnesses said Parker, who could not conceive after a hysterectomy, had offered $100,000 for a surrogate mother and told her boyfriend that she would have an induced delivery the day of the killing.
Wade Griffin’s mother, Connie, testified Monday that she tried to talk to her son about the possibility that Taylor might not be pregnant.
“But he didn’t want to listen,” she said.
“This whole thing has been a nightmare,” Assistant DA Crisp said, prompting the mom to respond, “It’s ruined my life.”
Connie Griffin said Wade seemed to believe Taylor was pregnant, even though he did ask her if Taylor was not showing as much because she had a “tummy tuck.” She said she told her son that was not the reason.
“‘Cause he doesn’t know about pregnancy, I tried to talk to him, but he was convinced,” she said in court.
Connie said she thought Taylor Parker was very personable when she first met her on the day she brought a casserole over to the house. The whole family was growing to love her, and at first, she thought Parker was someone her son would enjoy being with.
“She just kind of drew you in,” Wade’s mother said on the stand.
But as time went on, Connie recalled that Taylor and Wade did not seem to be on the same page. “She seemed to want a close relationship. I could not tell if he wanted that or was standing back. There were some red flags. One was that she didn’t have custody of her son.”
“How did we get here?” Crisp asked the jury in opening statements. “How did it get this far? She is an actress, an actress of the highest order. The lies and fraud go on and on; the layers of fraud are staggering. You are going to have to understand the fraud to understand what happened on Oct. 9. This started months and months ahead of time until it passed the point of no return, and it ended up in homicide.”
At the beginning of the trial, defense attorney Jeff Harrelson asked the six male and six female jurors not to fall prey to their emotions and to keep an open mind.
“It’s a complicated case, factually and emotionally,” he said. “The law is the lens and filter you must view these facts through. Sometimes it’s not black and white but a shade of gray.”
Parker could get the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.