Two murders in DeKalb County, Georgia six weeks apart, and just six miles away from each other, have investigators wondering if they are looking for the same killer.
Homicide detectives in DeKalb County, Georgia need your help. Two grieving families need closure. Can a fresh look at two eerily similar cold cases breathe new life into the investigations? And is the key to solving at least one of those murders hidden in a recording of the victim's last moments alive?
Sitting down for TV interviews isn't the kind of thing police in Georgia's fourth-most-crowded county normally have time to do. DeKalb County Police Homicide Lt. Rod Bryant is taking time out to talk about two cases he says need to be solved, the first of which started years ago with a 911 call from a hysterical young woman.
The girl making the call hadn't heard from her sister in two days, and finally decided to go to her house, and let herself in.
"She went in the location, she called for her sister, did not receive an answer," said Lt. Bryant. "She went upstairs and checked and saw her sister in the bedroom lying on the floor in a puddle of blood. She called 911 afterwards."
When detectives arrived, they find the sister in shock and 27-year-old Tamekia Taylor lying dead on her bedroom floor, stabbed a staggering 57 times.
"She was nude," said Lt. Bryant. "There was blood smeared all over the carpet, there was blood on the walls, and there was blood leading to the bathroom. It was a pretty bad scene."
Tamekia's sister tells detectives about the last time they spoke, and the investigation begins.
"Her last conversation was two days before she was found by her sister, so we gotta go back two days of this young lady's life and try to find out what happened to her," said Lt. Bryant.
It was a drive to succeed that followed Tamekia into adulthood, where at just 27, she was working as a highly respected loan officer for a major financial firm, living in a house she bought herself. Getting the job done in a competitive market that included parts of Atlanta often included going to networking parties and handing out business cards.
At least, that was the plan the Thursday night of Dec. 4, 2002, when her friend Rochelle Howard last talked to her friend.
"Called me around 5, said she was getting ready to go to a party. It was a Christmas party," said Rochelle. "She said she was wearing this red dress. She was all excited about attending the party, that party and she was going to call me later on. I said 'OK, have a good time,' and I never heard from her again. She just was gone."
Police believe some time shortly after Tamekia hung up the phone with Rochelle, she either opened her door to someone she knew, or was surprised by an intruder already inside.
"There was no evidence of any forced entry," said Lt. Bryant. "It looked like the victim possibly just arrived home. And nothing out of the ordinary was observed downstairs."
However the killer made his way in, the evidence shows Tamekia was forced into her upstairs bedroom, where she was stripped of her clothes, sexually assaulted and then stabbed almost one time for every second in a minute.
Almost immediately, detectives seem well on their way to identifying a suspect.
"There were fingerprints found at the location," said Lt. Bryant. "We also found bloody footprints."
And male's DNA was recovered from the victim's body. While investigators waited for the results to come back on that DNA, they worked on building a profile of the killer based on the nature of the crime, and some knife wounds that pierced all the way through Tamekia's body.
"The person was very angry. I think it was personal, I think that person possibly rejected by Ms. Taylor," said Lt. Bryant. "Tamekia was about 5' 10 " to 5' 11". So this person was very physically strong."
"We strongly feel that it was somebody that she knew that she let in that she was comfortable enough to at least open the door," said Tamekia's stepmother Gwen Taylor.
Like maybe an ex boyfriend? Detectives quickly identify anyone Tamekia may have dated, and that included at least two men who lived not far from her house, one of whom made it clear he was angry Tamekia didn't want to be more than friends. But police questioned both men, along with several others, took DNA from everyone, and found no matches.
When the lab results for the DNA taken from the crime scene came back, it was a strand that led nowhere.
"That DNA has not been compared to anyone at this time," said Lt. Bryant.
Detectives are at a loss. Tamekia's own family is completely stumped.
Then, just six weeks after the murder of Tamekia Taylor, only six miles away it happens again: another young woman is stabbed multiple times in her home. And this time detectives have one chilling piece of evidence: the killer's own voice recorded by the victim's phone.
Jennifer Clemmings, 34, made a desperate call to a friend that went straight to voicemail.
The first thing heard is Jennifer's phone dropping to the floor. After that, the sound of Jennifer trying to talk down an angry male.
"That voicemail recorded a voice exchange between Jennifer and the suspect, and it lasted for about 30 seconds," said DeKalb County Police Lt. Rod Bryant. "During the recording she stated 'I'm gonna give you your money, I'm gonna pay you back your money.'"
Then you can hear the increasing desperation in Jennifer's voice as she tries to calm things down.
"That suspect was basically telling her to be still, to quit playing, what he's about to do to her, he's about to sexually assault her," said Lt. Bryant. "Her voice was very afraid, very shaky. You even heard her saying a small prayer."
The voicemail cuts off shortly after that prayer.
When Jennifer Clemmings' friend finally hears the message, she immediately calls the cops. But it's already too late.
"The officers went immediately to that location," said Lt. Bryant. "The door's unlocked, they went inside, they found Jennifer in the bedroom. Jennifer was deceased at that time."
Right away, homicide detectives notice the similarities between Jennifer Clemmings' crime scene and Tamekia Taylor's from just weeks before.
"She was nude. She was lying on the floor on her stomach in the puddle of blood," said Bryant. "She was stabbed over 20 to 30 times."
An apparent act of rage, just like with Tamekia Taylor. In addition, there was evidence both victims had been sexually assaulted.
"It was too much of a coincidence," said Lt. Bryant.
And there were other similarities between the victims that were hard to ignore. Like Tamekia, Jennifer Clemmings was an ambitious young self-made woman who lived on her own.
Miriam Gordon, one of Jennifer's four older sisters, remembers Jennifer as a hard-working girl who, at 34 years old, already had an extremely successful career. And according to friends and family, Jennifer used what she had to give back to the community, giving jobs to those in need.
"She paid people to do work around her house," said Lt. Bryant. "She got people from the church, she got people from Home Depot, or somewhere from the neighborhood."
So then who would want her dead? Her sister Miriam says she was stumped from the moment one of their other sisters called her with the news.
When police started digging, they found much the same thing: Jennifer Clemmings had no obvious enemies. There were no usual suspects.
"At that time she wasn't romantically involved with anyone that we know of," said Lt. Bryant.
Police collect the suspect's DNA from the scene, as well as the knives he used to take Jennifer's life. But like in Tamekia Taylor's case, nothing matched anyone in the system.
So police search for clues in that voicemail.
"The voice was very distinctive. It was a Southern male. Some of the language that he used was Southern," said Lt. Bryant.
And then there was one section of the voicemail where Jennifer can be heard almost whispering in the background. Could she be saying a name?
"We listened to it. We sent it off to be analyzed, we had the FBI analyze it," said Lt. Bryant. "Several years after that we sent it to a super smart student at Georgia Tech to analyze it, but she did not say a name. We could not get a name out of that recording."
And neither can anyone else.
"We let the parents listen to it, we let her friends listen to it," said Bryant. "We even played it on the news, where the public can listen to it. No one recognized the voice."
But while the recording didn't give detectives a name, it did seem to reveal a motive.
"I want my money, man. Don't play me!"
"The motive was the person was upset they didn't get their money, so that indicated to us that this person possibly done some type of work for us and she owed him money," said Lt. Bryant.
Maybe one of those same people Jennifer Clemmings hired from the community?
"She was having work done on her house," said sister Miriam.
And police did search for those day-laborers.
"Most of them we did track down, but she could have used the ones that we never knew about, or never even heard about," said Lt. Bryant.
Detectives still feel it's a solid lead, but to date they have yet to find anyone who matches the evidence.
And what about the other big question: Is there a connection to the Tamekia Taylor case? Both women lived less than 10 minutes from each other, and were murdered in similar ways by men police believe the victims knew.
But surprisingly, based on evidence investigators aren't releasing, they say that the only connection is coincidence, and that they're looking for two different killers.
"I do not believe the person responsible for killing Tamekia Taylor is responsible for killing Jennifer Clemmings," said Lt. Bryant.
For Clemmings, the leading theory continues to be that someone she hired may have killed her over a missed payment. But for Taylor, investigators still need the public's help even establishing a motive.
"It could've been a sexual assault, someone that surprised her, it could have been a friend of hers who she possibly rejected and that person snapped, but no clear motive has been established at this time," said Lt. Bryant.
And yet detectives say they do believe both of these cases can be solved. They're just waiting for the right tip to come in.
"We have evidence we just have to match it to a offender," said Lt. Rod Bryant. "I don't want to give away too much in case we find the subject, because to find the right person that's done this, we need to leave stuff that only we know and he knows."
For now, the families of Tamekia Taylor and Jennifer Clemmings will continue to hold out hope and cling to memories.