42°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Las Vegas sledgehammer suspect is mentally ill, family says

Updated September 4, 2019 - 5:17 pm

How did Clinton Taylor end up behind the Twin Lakes laundromat, holding a bloody sledgehammer?

Before the fatal attack, and the handcuffs, and the murder charge, he spent years in and out of mental health treatment, his cousin Char-maine Beverly said. Before he became sporadic and violent and scary, he was a loving young man. Then he got sick.

Taylor, 36, remains in the Clark County Detention Center, accused of bludgeoning a woman he did not know early on Aug. 29. The woman was doing her laundry when she noticed a strange man with a sledgehammer outside and called 911, Las Vegas police said.

The woman stayed on the phone with 911 until she screamed and the call dropped. Arriving officers found her dead in what detectives described as a random attack. The Clark County coroner’s office has not identified her.

“Our heart does go out to that lovely woman who was just minding her own business and washing her clothes,” Beverly, 33, said, adding that she would use the woman’s name if she knew it. “No one deserves that. And it’s no excuse, but I want the world to know he was sick.”

Brief court appearance

During a brief court hearing Wednesday, Deputy Public Defender Sarah Hawkins asked a judge to set Taylor’s bail at $10,000, adding that he would unlikely be able to afford it.

Hawkins said Taylor had worked for a few months at a casino, though she did not know which property.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman ruled that Taylor would remain in the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

Taylor suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Beverly told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday. Over the years, his violent outbursts grew more common.

There was the time he held a steak knife up to his father, chasing and trying to stab him.

There was the time he slashed a neighbor’s tires with a knife, shouting nonsense while still holding it.

“I came outside and said, ‘Little Clint’ — because he’s a junior — ‘put the knife down,’ ” Beverly recalled through tears. “We told the neighbor, ‘We’ll take care of your tires. Just don’t come outside! He doesn’t know you. Don’t come outside!’ ”

There were times Taylor would sit around with everyone at large family gatherings, until he was suddenly standing, throwing a punch.

“We just started adapting to it, like, ‘Just get your kids and move out of the way, but don’t make him leave,’ ” Beverly said, “because he had nowhere to go.”

So many times, she sat with Taylor and tried to talk him down, even as he thought passersby on the street were plotting to kill him. The two grew up together, along with two of Taylor’s brothers, who died recently.

Jamar Taylor, the oldest, was killed in January 2018, when police said a man he did not know shot him several times. The man didn’t like how loud his music was, police said. Jamar Taylor tried to run, but he collapsed and later died at a hospital. Detectives also described it as a random attack.

The younger brother, Grananson Day, died of heat exposure about a month ago while living homeless in Las Vegas. Clinton Taylor knew they were both gone, Beverly said, but he didn’t know how to process that reality.

“It was, ‘Both of my brothers died. Everybody’s scared of me. Where am I going to go?’” Beverly said.

Similar incident

In an arrest report released Wednesday, officers documented two other instances in which Clinton Taylor threatened family members — one in April while holding a metal pipe, and another time in August 2018 while holding a shovel.

According to a separate report obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Clinton Taylor in June 2018 also walked up behind a woman on the sidewalk of the street where his father lived, holding a shovel.

The woman — a neighbor — turned around in time to recognize him and realize he was holding the shovel above her head. She screamed for Clinton Taylor’s father, and the son ran inside the house, according to the report.

When officers arrived, Clinton Taylor was rambling incoherently. His father, who called the police, explained his condition.

“It was determined that Taylor had a mental illness and the incident was a result of that mental illness,” officers wrote.

The neighbor agreed not to press charges since she was not hurt, but she “wanted Taylor to get the medical attention he needs for his mental illnesses,” according to the report.

‘It was a Band-Aid’

Beverly tried to get him help. Over the last several years, she and the family called the police during his outbursts and had him committed to different facilities for treatment. Each time, he would come out like a zombie — over-medicated and mentally absent.

“It wasn’t a cure,” Beverly said. “It was a Band-Aid.”

But Medicaid didn’t cover continued treatment or medication, and she couldn’t afford it herself. So again and again, his personality would creep back. And so would his demons.

“He was so sick,” she sobbed. “We didn’t know how to help him. We didn’t go to school for things like this.”

His father, also named Clinton Taylor, let his son live with him despite his violent outbursts, but the younger Taylor would often wander, disappearing for days at a time. Stressed and run down by grief, the older Taylor had a hard time keeping track of him.

Beverly said she couldn’t take him in, because even though she was closest to him, she couldn’t trust him around her kids. So he kept wandering.

“Every time I would see him, we would go on long walks, we would go the park, I would get him food, I would get him water,” she said through tears. “I was the only one who wasn’t scared of him, but I didn’t know what to do.”

He wandered off for the last time about two days before the attack, his father said. Early last Thursday, he ended up near the laundromat, holding a sledgehammer.

“It’s just hard,” the father, 53, said on Tuesday. “I never thought that he would do anything like that.”

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3801. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer David Ferrara contributed to this story.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST