NEW BOSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Testimony Tuesday in the trial of the East Texas woman accused of killing a New Boston mother and removing her unborn child from her body detailed a mountain of evidence showing just how far Taylor Parker was allegedly willing to go to fake her pregnancy and come up with a baby in time for her purported due date.
Parker, who was 27 at the time of the murders on October 9, 2020, is charged with kidnapping and capital murder in the deaths of 21-year-old Reagan Simmons Hancock and her unborn baby girl, Braxlynn.
Simmons had been stabbed repeatedly and strangled, all while her three-year-old daughter slept in another room. Her skull also appeared to be crushed by a hammer. Prosecutors have said they are seeking the death penalty due to the heinous and pre-meditated nature of the crime, and because Parker showed no remorse.
Parker confessed to the crime and admitted to pretending to be pregnant in order to claim the baby as her own, according to the affidavit filed for her arrest six days after Simmons’ mother found her daughter’s body and Parker was stopped by a Texas state trooper in De Kalb with the dying newborn in her lap, umbilical cord still attached.
During the first day of testimony Monday, prosecutors brought several witnesses to the stand, including the OBGYN who performed her tubal ligation and partial hysterectomy in 2014, who established that Parker was unable to become pregnant and bear children. The jury also heard from her former best friends, former co-workers, and her ex-husband about lies they said only grew bigger when she was called out on them.
If the first day of the trial was all about Taylor Parker’s alleged lies, faked illnesses, and manipulation, day two was focused on intent. Testimony Tuesday morning left no doubt that Parker knew she was not pregnant, was intentionally pretending to be pregnant, and that she intended to bring a baby home.
Texas Department of Public Safety Special Agent Dustin Estes returned to the stand, continuing his testimony for Monday afternoon, diving into Parker’s social media posts and interactions, Google searches, and YouTube views.
The prosecution highlighted a post celebrating one year of Parker‘s relationship with her boyfriend, Wade Griffin, in early August. But the jury also saw posts by Parker vaguely alluding to turmoil in the relationship and apparent bitterness about perceived mistreatment.
Data gathered under search warrants showed that several contacts between Parker and the victim had been deleted. The data also showed that Parker searched Google to find out, “if I delete a whole conversation on Facebook Messenger, will the other person still see the conversation?”
The search results confirmed that they would.
The data also showed Parker continued to post updates about medical issues she was claiming to have about her fake pregnancy. She ordered baby bedding and purchased a crib through an online Facebook group.
Around the same time, evidence gathered by the special investigator shows Parker searched the internet for “fake pregnancy belly cheap” and ultimately purchased one from fakeababy.com. Parker also ordered a customized fake ultrasound photo, complete with custom gestation, the sex of the baby to a specific degree of certainty, as well as the clinic name and physician.
The prosecution entered the same kind of silicone fake pregnancy belly Parker ordered online into evidence and showed it to the jury, along with a series of Facebook posts showing the purported progression of Parker’s pregnancy, noting in the timeline of those photos as her selfies showed a larger belly that it was after the fake belly would have arrived.
In late August, Parker announced in a Facebook post that she had five weeks to her due date of Sept. 17 and that she would have to have a C-section. The data showed Parker unfriended her mother on Facebook in early August and Hancock’s husband on Sept. 17. On Sept. 28, less than two weeks before she was killed, Simmons sent Parker a Snapchat message wishing her good luck with her pending childbirth. Parker never responded.
Estes noted on the stand that a significant shift in her search history started on September 14, when Parker also began searching for places where pregnant women would be found, such as maternity consignment shops and OB clinics around East Texas and in Shreveport. Estes said Parker made appointments and was seen both inside and outside of these clinics and that Google location data confirmed her location at these clinics, where she also searched Texas license plate numbers. Estes said on the stand that the plate number she searched went back to a young woman who was pregnant.
In early October, eight days before Hancock was killed and her baby removed from her womb, Parker allegedly looked up teen pregnancy support groups in Texarkana and allegedly even went to one of the meetings.
The search data showed Parker searched for information about what the average weight of a fetus would be at 29 weeks, midwifery certification information, and private adoptions. Estes testified that he believes Parker was attempting to get near pregnant women by posing as a midwife.
Parker also searched for and viewed numerous videos about both vaginal and c-section childbirth in the month before the murder, including how to do a C-section and how to deliver and inspect a placenta. Later, as her fake due date approached, began searching for out-of-hospital birth certificate instructions.
Two days before the murder, Parker searched Simmon’s previous and current addresses, as well as the office of Simmon’s Texarkana OBGYN. Parker also viewed a photo of Reagan and Homer Hancock on their wedding day and texted “Reagan?” to a number she believed to be Reagan’s using a spoofed cell phone number to hide her identity, but that it was no longer her number.
Early on the morning of the murder, Parker’s search data shows she searched for information on a 35-week vaginal delivery. Simmons was about that far along when she was killed. Parker also searched how to do a physical exam of a 35-week late pre-term infant.
Texas Rangers Lt. Jared testified that it all added up to show that Parker faked her pregnancy, took steps to report the baby as her own, lied about an inheritance from her grandmother that she claimed could be used to pay for surrogacy, “and ultimately planned and carried out the murder.”
Testimony Tuesday afternoon focused on data from Parker’s cell phone that showed she downloaded and used several different applications that allow users to call and text without associating the user’s original phone number. Brown is the digital forensics expert who analyzed data in this case. He testified that, in addition to trying to contact Reagan two days before the murder, Parker used the apps to fake conversations with her grandmother and her aunt, which she would then screenshot and send to her boyfriend to back up her deceptions. She would then delete the conversations from her phone in an apparent attempt to hide the evidence.
Brown said Parker also used one of those spoofing apps to call in a bomb threat to the Titus County hospital on the morning of her scheduled induction to cover the fact that it would not take place.
The trial will be four-day weeks with Fridays off and is expected to last at least one month. Parker remains held in Bowie County on a $5 million bond.