Pregnancy, Lies, Kidnapping and Murder

Taylor Rene Parker/Morton mugshot, courtesy of Idabel police department

Update: On October 3, 2022, a Bowie County jury deliberated just one hour before finding Taylor Rene Parker guilty of capital murder for killing Reagan Hancock and her unborn child, Braxlynn. The punishment phase will begin on October 12th. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Of the 500 people who showed up at New Boston High School a week ago, twelve of them will eventually hear why Taylor Rene Parker (aka Morton and Wacasey) murdered her pregnant friend, Reagan Simmons Hancock, and cut her unborn child out of her belly.

It is a capital murder case. Taylor Parker/Morton could get the death penalty. Given the alleged facts of this case, prosecutors have a good shot at it; I don’t expect the jurors will have much sympathy for her. After you hear this story, I’m guessing neither will you.

Two Peas in a Pod

They met on the internet but became real-life friends. Taylor Parker took Reagan’s engagement pictures in 2019. A few months later, she photographed their wedding. On October 8, 2020, she delivered Starbucks and a baby gift to seven-and-a-half-month pregnant Reagan Hancock. The next day, she killed her.

It’s not surprising the two became fast friends. Taylor Morton seemed to have a lot in common with Reagan Hancock. Both grew up in tiny Texas towns, Parker in Simms and Hancock in New Boston. They were both twenty-somethings; Taylor is twenty-eight; Reagan twenty-two. Both were heavily pregnant, excited about the births of their respective daughters.

But Taylor Parker was keeping secrets.

The Tangled Web of Lies

Taylor Morton Parker had zero chance of getting pregnant. She’d had her tube tied and a hysterectomy. This was information she did not share with her boyfriend, Wade Griffin when she announced they were expecting in February 2020. Griffin was delighted.

As so the charade began. And what a charade it was. Parker wore maternity clothes. She often posted online about her pregnancy, chronicling the phantom baby’s development and her difficult pregnancy. Here’s an example (in a post shared by True Crime Society);

“Yes ma’am gave me two IV doses of blood thinner,” she wrote in response to someone asking if doctors could “fix” whatever was wrong. “Go back tomorrow for second scan to see if what’s left of clot is breaking up. Health nurse is going to monitor me . . . Will see OB every day the next week or two with the blood thinners.”

Parker/Morton was milking this for all it was worth.

She uploaded a picture of a sonogram with an adorable close-up of a baby’s face. She threw a gender reveal party, proudly announcing the chosen name for their soon-to-be-daughter; Clancy Gaile. She announced the due date as October 9th.

Wade Griffin said had no reason to doubt any of it. He told the police the whole sordid pregnancy saga. He swore that she had a “perfect baby bump.” He said that some people had initially expressed skepticism about Parker’s pregnancy and had accused the two of them of faking it. This had hurt and angered Wade, who couldn’t imagine anyone engaging in such deception.

In one Facebook thread (since deleted), Griffin commented on people not believing in Morton’s pregnancy. Here is his response to a friend who offered support:

“I’m glad ur willing to make something for us (name redacted) everyone else things we are faking a whole damn pregnancy! 😂😂 with the little one that’s not even here yet. Some people I once called friends are going to look soo stupid in the weeks to come 😊

On the day that his world came tumbling down, he said he was supposed to meet her at a nearby hospital at noon to meet his new daughter; Taylor had told him her doctor was going to induce labor. Instead, he was taken to the police station and grilled.

A Tragic Ending

According to the probable cause affidavit, Reagan’s mother called 911 at 10:18 a.m. on October 9, 2020, after finding her daughter lying face down on the ground. There was blood everywhere; on the floor, furniture walls, appliances, all over the house. Officers responded to the scene and, after being told the victim was 34 weeks pregnant, asked EMS personnel to come and check on the baby.

Here’s what they found:

“The body camera footage from police shows Life Net EMS turn Simmons’ body over, which revealed a very large cut across Simmons’ abdomen area. EMS personnel determined Simmons no longer had a baby in her stomach area.”

Unknown to responding officers, the wheels of justice were already starting to turn. Approximately an hour earlier — around 9:30 a.m. — a Texas state trooper had pulled over Parker’s speeding car in DeKalb, Texas, not far from the Oklahoma border. She was attempting to perform CPR on a newborn girl who was lying in her lap. The infant’s umbilical cord appeared to be coming from Parker’s pants. Parker told him she had just given birth and her baby wasn’t breathing.

The trooper also tried to revive the infant; when unsuccessful, he called for an ambulance, which took Parker and the baby to McCurtain Memorial Hospital in Idabel, Oklahoma. The baby was dead. Doctors quickly determined that this was not the mother as it was clear that Parker had not given birth.

When reports came in at 1 p.m. that a woman was murdered and her baby taken, police immediately returned to McCurtain Memorial Hospital. Parker almost immediately confessed. She admitted lying to her boyfriend about being pregnant and keeping up the pretense for months.

She lied about some of the most damming details. For instance, she said that she barely knew Reagan; per the affidavit, “she reportedly told officers she only knew the deceased pregnant woman by her first name and thought they were the same age.” She initially described the murder as the two of them getting into a fight, but, upon further questioning, essentially confessed to the murder and kidnapping. Medical evidence suggests Hancock was stabbed and strangled. The scalpel Parker used to carry out the killings was still lodged in Reagan’s neck at the crime scene.

The Motive: It’s Not What You Think

When something like this happens — and rarely it does — most people assume that a long-unfulfilled desire for a baby — perhaps one of the most instinctual and powerful desires some women ever experience — is the impetus. Perhaps years of desperately trying to get pregnant or mourning failed fertility treatments has finally driven the perpetrator mad.

But if you thought this crime was about becoming a mom, you’d be wrong. Morton already had two children, one by a former husband and another by a boyfriend. Court records obtained by the Texarkana Gazette show that Parker gave birth to a son in 2013, who lives with his father. She also owes her ex-husband, the son’s father, over $7,000 in child support, having failed to make a single child-support payment following their divorce in March 2018. People who know Parker/Morton have also stated that they don’t believe her daughter lives with her, either.

Clearly, Morton/Parker seemed more invested in having a new child than in parenting the ones she already has. So why would she create such an elaborate hoax ending in such a heinous crime? Because she didn’t have a child with Wade Griffin. I imagine that Morton/Parker saw real (or imaginary) writing on the wall that led her to believe her paramour was thinking about heading for the hills. She’s desperate to hang on to her man and a baby, in her mind, seems like the best way to do it.

I’ve seen this in other fetal abduction cases, in which the perpetrator already had multiple children and loses interest in or abandons them once the relationship with the father ends. The couple has problems and the relationship gets rocky. Adding to the stress is the fact that the woman has no real interest in mothering over the long haul. The child is primarily an object that she uses to hold on to what she really wants — her man.

A Hint of Things to Come

When someone is arrested for a crime, people come out of the woodwork to talk about their relationship with them. It could be a best friend or a person who sat next to them in the second grade. And, given the context in which they find themselves, what they have to say is rarely positive.

So, I always take what I read with a grain of salt, knowing how often the media will pull for a negative comment and also keeping in mind that, once we know the outcome of someone’s life, it clouds just about everything that happened beforehand. Things that seemed innocent at the time — a white lie or a casual remark — can take on a sinister tone. Keep this in mind when you read what I’m about to write next.

In a recent live chat, two high school friends talked about their relationship with Taylor Morton Parker. They swore they had not compared notes beforehand. They seemed to have had different relationships with her. And what struck me was how similar their descriptions of Taylor were.

People who have known Taylor Morton Parker for years describe her as manipulative, attention-seeking, and a prolific liar. They describe her as someone with a long history of deception and fraud that was often motivated by a desire for attention and sympathy. Interestingly, while her former peers recognized her problematic behaviors, it seemed as if they passed it off as due to Taylor’s insecurities or attempt to “fit in” or “be friends.”

But if their memories are correct, Taylor’s actions were way beyond how most teens show insecurity or attempt to cure loneliness. In this youtube interview after her arrest, for instance, two former schoolmates recalled several instances of Taylor making up stories that weren’t true; bragging about sex with a nonexistent boyfriend, claiming to have serious physical illnesses (cancer, multiple sclerosis), asking girls for nude pictures of themselves that she could use to “catfish” online connections. Several of these stories included false pregnancies; taking a picture of a pregnant classmate, cropping off her head, and, pretending it was her, sending it to a guy she liked. Would try to keep someone who she was actually with.

Reportedly, this had been going on since elementary school. Both women said that, when confronted with her lies, Taylor would double down rather than fess up. One of the reasons Taylor may have been able to keep up her online pretense for so long as she would cut off, or block, anyone who might blow the whistle.

What’s the Problem?

I have never met this defendant. She has not yet been convicted of this crime so, despite the apparent overwhelming amount of evidence against her, she is innocent until proven guilty. I have, however, covered several fetal abduction cases before, and the facts are amazingly similar to this one.

In this June 2021 analysis of fifteen fetal abduction cases between 1987 and 2011, researchers found that, like Parker, most offenders confessed shortly after their arrest but also attempted to present themselves in a favorable light and made statements that minimized their culpability.

Assessment of their mental health invariably played a central role in their legal defense and is often used in an attempt to get a lesser charge or mitigate sentencing. It doesn’t work. Of the fifteen defendants studied, nine received life without parole, two received the death penalty, and one received a minimum of thirty years. Two others committed suicide.

Defense experts offered a variety of psychiatric diagnoses in an attempt to explain the defendant’s behavior; borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorder, psychogenic amnesia, pseudopregnancy, PTSD, factitious disorder/pregnancy, and schizophrenia were among those offered. Jurors didn’t buy them, at least in terms of alleviating criminal responsibility. It certainly didn’t help that Of course, the level of deception and premeditation that went into these crimes certainly didn’t help.

The Bottom Line

Reagan Simmons Hancock fought hard for her life and the life of her unborn child. She fought to the very end. Parker’s fight for her life will start in September; opening statements are scheduled to begin on September 12. If she is convicted of capital murder and kidnapping charges, she faces death by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty. They said the same thing in 2004 when Lisa Montgomery murdered Bobbie Joe Stinnett and cut her unborn fetus from her womb. On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, she was executed.

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Originally published at https://joniejohnstonpsyd.substack.com on July 9, 2022.

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Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.

Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.

Forensic psychologist/private investigator//author of serial killer book. Passionate about victim’s rights, the psychology of true crime, and criminal justice.