Crime Watch Daily investigates: What happened the night Taylor Williams was killed?
09/19/2017 2:23 pm PDT
An unarmed military hero who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan is killed outside a Georgia apartment complex. Now his family wants to know why no one is being charged with his murder.
He saved lives on desert battlefields, only to lose his on green lawns back home.
A soldier's horrific death, a mother's unimaginable heartbreak, and too many unanswered questions.
His best friend was there and saw it happen. But did he get it right?
We reconstruct the crime and ask the question: Why is Taylor Williams' killer still walking free?
Taylor Williams, 26, was born and bred to be a hero. From volunteer firefighter to National Guardsman to medic in the war in Afghanistan.
"His battle brothers all have the same story, that Taylor was humble and and some of them claimed that he saved their lives and that's why they're here today," Taylor's mother Nichole Williams tells Crime Watch Daily. "Let's just put it this way: I was proud to be his mom. I was proud to be Taylor's mom."
After two tours of duty, Taylor makes a life back in the United States, buying a house in Kingsland, Georgia.
"He was always working on his house," said Taylor's best friend Josh Carroll. "He wanted to get that going. He was doing a job on it, redid the whole inside."
Josh Carroll says he was as good a friend as he was a soldier.
"He was always there when I needed him. Always, for anything," said Josh. "He would come over to the house, we'd sit in the yard in his truck and sit and talk."
But something followed Taylor back from the front lines: haunting memories and incredible stress. He sought treatment for his PTSD.
He was ultimately given a clean bill of mental health from the military.
"He had PTSD for a little bit but he had it under control. He was taking his medicines and stuff like that," said Josh.
Then, as lingering dark clouds are lifting, Taylor starts dating a stunning 18-year-old blonde named Ashley Eason, and she moves in to Taylor's new house.
But Taylor's mom says the relationship is yet another battlefield.
"Red flags to me were her constant moving in and out of the house," said Nichole Williams.
But after a particularly nasty breakup, Taylor's mom says Ashley agrees to stay -- but there are strings attached.
"In order to make the relationship work to get back together she's not going to pay half the rent on the house if her name is not going to be on the deed, so Taylor went and remortgaged the home," said Nichole. "Her name is now on this new deed."
Ashley's name is also on the mortgage. But sharing a house could not heal the broken relationship. In 2016, Ashley Eason moves out for good.
Did Taylor seem relieved that he was moving on from Ashley?
"Yeah, he was happy," said Josh.
But that happiness wouldn't last. On August 14 of last year, Taylor and Ashley meet up again.
"Taylor received a phone call and ended up over at a bar called Bottomz Up," said Nichole.
Ashley's doing some heavy drinking with her friend Lauren Peters; Lauren's boyfriend, an Army Reserve soldier named Andrew Peacock; and another Reserve soldier Troy Grundorf. And Taylor wasn't happy to see his ex with another guy.
"Taylor went over, apparently he hit him, and then he left," said Nichole.
The fight is fierce, and short. But it's not over.
Within hours, Taylor Williams will be stabbed to death. But who did it?
"Apparently he had a quick altercation with Troy Grundorf," said Nichole Williams, Taylor's mother. "Taylor went over, apparently he hit him, and then he left."
At first, the fight appears to be over. Far from it. Later that night, Taylor grabs his best friend Josh Carroll to drive by Ashley's apartment. He uses a key fob to set off her car alarm, like a juvenile prank.
"Yeah, just messing around," said Josh Carroll, Taylor Williams' best friend.
What it becomes is a call to battle.
What you're about to hear is Josh's story. It's a version of events that's shocking in its brutality, and raises as many questions as it answers.
"We heard people yelling and they were running out towards the road, like to the edge of the road, just throwing their hands up, yelling," said Josh. "Taylor puts it in park, gets out, runs straight up to Troy and hits him and they start fighting."
Josh says that's when Lauren Peters' boyfriend Andrew Peacock jumps into the fray.
"Taylor's on top of Troy hitting him, and then there's Andrew, and starts getting on Taylor's back," said Josh.
Now Josh's heart stops cold -- he suddenly sees the glint of razor-sharp steel raining down on his best friend. He says he saw Andrew repeatedly stabbing Taylor.
"On his back, yes," said Josh. "And I jump out of the truck and I run over, I grab Andrew and I hold him up against Ashley's Jeep and then he started stabbing me."
Dazed and bleeding, Josh knows it's time to retreat. He grabs Taylor and they both stagger back to the truck. But Taylor's wounds are worse than Josh thought.
"I notice Taylor starts walking a little slower and he got to the sidewalk and just collapsed," said Josh. "He didn't move at all again."
Josh escapes and flags down a nearby cop. But when officers arrive on scene, they find Taylor Williams dead from the stabbing. Josh expects police to arrest Andrew Peacock, the man Josh says held the knife.
But that doesn't happen.
Josh has never wavered from his account. But Andrew Peacock has not been charged with any crime related to Taylor Williams' death.
A thousand miles away in Connecticut, uniformed officers wake Taylor's mom Nichole with the gut-wrenching news. Her beloved son is gone.
"And then you're just, you're numb. Then you think, uh, and then you think 'Well, I gotta go where he is, because what if he's scared?'" said Nichole Williams.
But all that's left are grim final arrangements.
"Taylor was my hero, but in my mind I'm still his mother and I didn't want him to be alone, I didn't want him to be afraid," Nichole said. "I know he's big, strong and he's tough and he's resilient, he's intelligent, he's a hero and he's a survivor, but this is different, this is the unknown."
And now this heartbroken mom is angry and demanding answers.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's detectives collect evidence, interview the witnesses, but their findings have Taylor's family and best friend baffled.
"They said they were going after Troy," said Josh.
Josh tells me that doesn't make any sense to him. Why? Because Josh says Troy Grundorf wasn't the guy with the knife that tragic night. That was Andrew Peacock, and Josh claims he's the one who stabbed Taylor.
Did he tell the district attorney flat out: "Hey, you're going after the wrong guy?"
"Yeah, I told them. They just told me that it wasn't Andrew. They just kept trying to get me to change it," said Josh.
Josh Carroll says Troy Grundorf was the guy with Ashley, Taylor's ex. Josh was only a few feet away and vividly remembers Troy wrestling with Taylor on the ground. Josh says that's when Peacock jumped in and started slashing.
"It was Andrew," Josh tells Crime Watch Daily.
Josh took Nichole and me back to the scene to play out his side of the story. In Josh's crystal-clear account, Taylor Williams and Troy Grundorf scuffle on the ground and Andrew jumps into the fray, slashing furiously with a knife. After pulling Andrew from Taylor, Josh says Andrew starts stabbing him.
After 11 deep cuts, Josh says Andrew ends the fight with a face-shattering head-butt.
"My arm goes limp a little, and he swings his head forward and comes back and breaks my nose," Josh said.
All of this, says Josh, is in plain sight of Taylor's ex, Ashley Eason.
Adding to the mystery, Andrew Peacock was the only one of the four guys in the fight that wasn't cut.
Josh sticks to his guns. But the Camden County District Attorney still bring charges against Troy Grundorf to a grand jury: Two for involuntary manslaughter, recklessly coming to Andrew's defense with a knife; and one tampering with evidence charge, for getting rid of the murder weapon.
If that sounds unbelievable, the grand jury seems to agree. The manslaughter charges are dismissed, leaving Troy Grundorf to plead not guilty to simply tampering with evidence.
Again, this is all Josh's account. If there's another side of the story, who will tell it?
A spokesperson at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tells our producers they can't comment given the pending tampering case.
Troy Grundorf's attorney Richard Allen sent Crime Watch Daily this text message: "I do not discuss pending litigation. I am aware of your reason for calling."
And we're told Andrew Peacock was called up for Army Active Duty Reserve.
That leaves one other person: Taylor's ex, Ashley Eason, who now owns the house she once shared with Taylor Williams.
"She moved into the house two weeks after I left Georgia from Taylor's funeral," said Taylor's mother Nichole.
Can Ashley tell us why no one is being held responsible for Taylor's death?
"I know who stabbed me and I am not changing it," said Josh Carroll.
But Andrew Peacock has never been charged with any crime. Instead, authorities hit Troy Grundorf with manslaughter, charges a grand jury dismissed, and tampering with evidence. Taylor's mom just doesn't get it.
"Josh already described the physical characteristics to a tee, and they're both very different," said Nichole. "Andrew has red hair and glasses. Troy Grundorf had black hair, no glasses. That's a very distinctive difference between the two."
Josh tells us Taylor's ex, Ashley Eason, was just a few feet away and witnessed everything. Did Ashley see something Josh didn't?
We want know. So I went to Ashley's house, the same one she used to share with Taylor, to see if Ashley can tell us what really happened that night. We were unsuccessful.
Nichole Williams tells us she is gathering evidence for a civil suit against those she says are responsible for her son's death.
"I won't stop at trying to get justice for my son," said Nichole Williams.
Until then, all that's left are memories, and a devastated family holding vigils where a brave soldier took his last breath.
"Taylor was stubborn. He learned it from me," said Nichole. "I'm just as stubborn and I won't stop fighting for him until I get justice for Taylor. And justice for Taylor for me is a murder charge with a prison sentence."