News, Culture & Society

Former sheriff’s employee arrested on murder charge

A former sheriff’s office employee in the Florida Panhandle has been arrested on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of a private investigator.

Ashley McArthur, 40, was arrested Thursday after police found the body of 33-year-old Taylor Wright in a wooded area in Cantonment, Florida.

Wright was a private investigator and former police officer in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She had been missing since September 7 when her roommate reported her missing. 

McArthur previously worked as a crime scene technician for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the Pensacola News Journal reported. A spokesman for the department said that she worked for them from June to November 2006 and resigned voluntarily. 

Pensacola Police Department spokesman Mike Wood told the newspaper that the women knew each other, but he would not elaborate. 

Deputies in Escambia County, Florida found Wright’s body in a wooded area off Britt Road around noon on Thursday. 

Public records show McArthur has gone by the last name Britt in the past. It’s unclear if the naming of the street has anything to do with the suspect. 

Pensacola Police Department spokesman Mike Wood said that after Wright went missing, they didn’t suspect foul play. 

‘Based upon what we we were told, we did not immediately believe there was any foul play in the disappearance,’ he said. ‘But our detective kept plugging away at it and found inconsistencies, and soon we had the entire division working on this case.’

Wood says that officers were deliberately given false statements early on in the investigation but didn’t elaborate. 

Bond was set at $1million during McArthur’s first court appearance. She has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder and is due back in court next on November 19.

The Pensacola Police Department and Escambia County Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate the murder.  

Wright worked for the Jacksonville Police Department on two separate occasions for a total of three years. 

The first time was from January 2008 to August 2009 and the second time was from July 2012 to December 2013. 

‘Officer Taylor Wright was a brave and spirited young officer, who we were happy to rehire to service when she returned to the area in 2012,’ JPD Deputy Chief Timothy A. Malfitano said. ‘She was a loved and valued member of our law enforcement family. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Taylor’s family and friends.’ 


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