Lifestyle & Human Interest

Cold Case Finally Solved 56 Years After 16-Year-Old Peggy Beck's Death


It’s been over 50 years since 16-year-old Margaret “Peggy” Beck was found dead in her tent at a Girl Scout camp, and authorities have just released the identity of her killer.

Beck was a counselor during the summer of 1963 at Flying G Ranch Girl Scouts Camp near Deckers, Colorado.

Her tentmate had been in the infirmary the night of Aug. 17, leaving Beck alone.

On the morning of Aug. 18, her tentmate entered their tent to find Beck dead.

According to The Denver Post, the camp initially thought the girl had died of natural causes, so they thoroughly cleaned her tent, while her tentmate moved her belongings.

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It wasn’t until eight hours after the body was found that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was notified.

When authorities arrived, they realized that the girl’s death was a case of foul play, based on strangulation marks around her neck and other physical signs.

She had apparently been sexually assaulted and strangled.

The teen’s broken fingernails suggested it was likely that she attempted to fight off her attacker. The scrapings from under her fingernails were saved by the FBI at the time.

The case came up again in 2007, according to The Denver Post, and a DNA profile created from those scrapings was submitted to a national database.

In 2019, that profile was revisited, and with all the tools available today for DNA testing and genealogical research, a suspect was identified.

“In 2007, a John Doe DNA profile was created from evidence originally collected from the crime scene, and the profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS),” the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said this week, according to KCNC-TV.

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“In June 2019, a more comprehensive profile was created and submitted for investigative genetic genealogy testing. The resulting investigation into leads gained from the testing led to the identity of Peggy’s killer.”

During a news conference Thursday, police named James Raymond Taylor as the culprit. His family helped investigators identify him, according to the outlet.

While Taylor would be around 81 years old today, no one knows where he is or even if he’s still alive. His family says they haven’t seen him in almost 50 years, and his last known whereabouts are believed to be Las Vegas — in 1976.

“We have no ideas where he’s at,” one investigator said.

While dredging up the story has brought up the pain of Peggy’s death again for the family, at least there is a suspect identified, and perhaps justice can eventually dealt for the life that was stolen.

“She was loving and protective of her family and we will cherish the memories we have of her forever,” her family wrote in a statement that was read during the briefing.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking