Murder Comes To Town will air the Zilpha Lowery murder case on Investigation Discovery this Friday. Zilpha Lowery, a Lake James truck-stop waitress, went missing more than 20 years ago in Marion, North Carolina. It took detectives over 10 years to find her body and solve the case. Her killer was a man named Robert Taylor (Robert Dean Taylor). The case, which was difficult to solve, will air under the Murder Comes To Town title, “Who’s Missing Now.” Zilpha Lowery’s family members, including her sister, will most likely appear on the show. Zilpha Lowery’s story was also featured on another Investigation Discovery show called Nightmare Next Door.
Murder Comes To Town: A Troubling Disappearance
When Zilpha Lowery went missing in 1993, it completely crushed her family members. It seemed that she had literally fallen off of the face of the earth. Since it wasn’t unusual for her to leave her home for several days at a time, no one seemed alarmed at first. But relatives became worried when they found out that Zilpha Lowery’s roommate had not seen her in more than a week.
Zilpha Lowery’s sister immediately began contacting friends and coworkers to find out when she had been seen last. To her horror, no one had seen Zilpha in two weeks. The police was contacted. But they were also unable to find out any information.
Without any information and no body, the case went cold–dead cold. The case was brought back to life again momentarily when two people stumbled upon Zilpha Lowery’s remains on a lonely dirt road in the woods, close to Lake James. An autopsy was able to determine from the skeletal remains that the woman had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Cold Case: Zilpha Lowery murder 7/27/1993 Marion, NC *Robert Dean Taylor convicted; sentenced to life in prison* http://t.co/94wFNeWS— Bonnie Kernene (@mylifeofcrime) June 17, 2012
A Black Sheep In The Family: Possibly A Double Killer?
For years, the disappearance of Zilpha was the subject of much speculation and rumors about what really happened to her and who had killed her.
One speculative theory that stood out was that she had been murdered by a family member. A man named Garland Edward Pittman, also known as Eddie, was the black sheep of the family. It was also believed that Eddie was responsible for the disappearance of his own son, Jeremiah. No one could find his body, either. Zilpha couldn’t stand Eddie, and she believed that he had done something to his son.
When she vanished, everyone thought Eddie had done it. It turned out that Eddie really had killed his son and dumped his body down a foot shaft in the woods. Garland Edward Pittman had also killed an antique’s collector, according to UPI. But he wasn’t the one who killed Zilpha Lowery.
North Carolina Cold Case Murder Is Solved
10 years later, police received a tip from a man in jail that Zilpha had partied with two men on the night that she disappeared back in 1993. He couldn’t remember their names. But the tip led police to an old trailer on the outskirts of town in Marion, where they spoke with a landlord who told them that a man named Robin Whited used to live there. They also learned that Robin Whited spent a lot of time at the trailer with his childhood friend, Robert Dean Taylor.
By then, both men lived in other states. Robin was living a normal, crime-free life. However, Robert Taylor was in prison for another unrelated charge.
The investigation revealed that Zilpha Lowery had been at that trailer during a party when she disappeared. She was murdered by Robert Taylor in a bedroom after she refused to have sex with him. According to the Whited, who ended up helping Taylor get rid of the body and discarding it on Black Bear Road. Taylor had beaten her severely, causing Zilpha to hit her head on an object.
Robert Taylor was sentenced to life in prison. Robin Whited was given a sentence of three years.
A Few Extras
- You can find a picture of Zilpha Louise Lowery at Find A Grave.
- Zilpha Lower’s body had to be exhumed to get DNA.
- Zilpha had gone to the trailer to see Robert Taylor. But Zilpha and Robin hit it off. The two showered and had sex. Then, a jealous Robert Taylor wanted a turn with her. But, she refused. Here’s what happened next, according to North Carolina court records.
“Taylor had only talked to Lowery on the phone; they had never met. The two men drove in Whited’s truck to pick her up at a truck stop. At the trailer, they had mixed drinks, defendant shared Xanax with Whited and Lowery, and Whited and Lowery began dancing while defendant watched from the couch. Whited told Lowery that he needed to take a shower. She followed him into the bathroom and the two showered together. After the shower, Whited and Lowery began having sex in the bathroom and then in the bedroom. Taylor came into the bedroom and said it was his turn to have sex with Lowery. He grabbed Lowery, but she pulled away and asked him to stop. When Whited sat up in the bed, defendant hit him, causing Whited to fall to the floor. Whited went to the kitchen to get some paper towels to put on his head. Whited then heard a sharp thumping noise coming from the bedroom. When he returned to the bedroom, defendant was on his knees above Lowery, who was lying undressed on the floor. A sheet and towel were wrapped around her bloody head.”
- DNA was found in the bedroom of that old trailer more than 10 years after the murder occurred there.
Watch Zilpha Lowery’s story this Friday when it airs at 8 p.m. on Investigation Discovery. This Friday’s Dateline is also about a woman who was murdered after she rejected a man’s sexual advances. Read up on on the case of Christina Morris.
[Featured Image by North Carolina Department Of Corrections]