Updated: December 20, 2022 | By Sarah Mitchell
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Melissa Ellison, known by many as Missy Taylor was a mother, a sister and a loyal friend. Missy loved her family. She had loving parents and four beautiful sisters, Missy being the second oldest of the five. Missy loved everyone the same and managed to be everyone’s best friend. She loved being out in the sun, hanging out by the pool or at the beach. She had a heart of gold and wouldn’t hesitate to give the shirt off her back if she knew someone else needed it.
“Missy loved listening to music, dancing and watching a good movie. She was a huge fan of Prince,” said Missy’s youngest sister Catherine (Sissy) Bennett. Sissy stated, “If you showed up at her house during the day the stereo would be turned up and she’d be dancing around cleaning to Prince”.
Sissy remembers seeing her sister give a man the only three dollars she had left. It was after separating from her husband and money was tight. Missy did this kind act knowing she had a baby at home that needed milk. After watching her older sister, she questioned Missy as to why she gave away her last bit of money. Missy responded, “You always help someone in need, and then God will take care of you; besides I have mom and dad, he needed it.”
Glenda, one of Missy’s sisters, stated,” I could spend countless hours telling so many fun, interesting, and good things about my sister. The love she gave to her family and friends was enough to stay with us forever.”
“Missy was the glue. She was the one that brought everyone together. If a bunch of us were getting together for a concert or a movie, we would always meet at her place,” said Charles (Chuck) Marshburn, who was friends with Missy since grade school.
“She was popular in high school; Missy was an AB honor roll student. She got to do whatever she wanted to do because she was always doing right,” said Sissy. “Missy loved picking out my clothes for the next day of school and even went all out getting me ready for my first prom. She loved dress up time and all the girly things”
Missy married out of high school and became pregnant shortly after. Missy was so excited to be a mom and took her new role very serious. Her daughter Casie was everything to her. Missy and her husband separated a year after Casie was born, but that didn’t stop Missy from being the best mom she could be for Casie.
Christmas was always the most wonderful time of the year for the Taylor family, particularly for the matriarch, Cathy. Their home would be filled with at least 30 people with decorations galore. Everyone loved it, but the most distinctive and contagious laugh belonged to Missy. Christmas of 1987 would be the last one the family spent all together.
Missy was murdered in her Jacksonville home, three days after Christmas on December 28th, 1987. The beautiful, young mother was attacked while she was asleep in her room. Her body was found by her roommates. Her 13-month-old baby, Casie, was found alive on a couch in the living room surrounded by pillows.
It has been more than three decades since Missy’s devastating murder and the case is still Unsolved.
Her then 13-month-old daughter, Casie is now a grown woman with three children of her own.
Casie expressed, “I’m exhausted, I find myself longing for my mother. Trauma can freeze your emotional response at the age you experience it. I was a one-year-old when she was murdered. I’ve had three babies, and I understand what it’s like to be a mother of a one-year-old. I refuse to imagine what it would feel like to put them to bed one night, and then never see them again.”
Our family will never stop trying to find answers. Casie, heartbreakingly, described the sorrow of having family members who have passed away without knowing who killed her mother, “I wonder if the person who killed my mother knows how much damage losing her has caused so many people. I wonder if it affects them just as much as it affects us.”
The oldest Taylor sister, Lisa. “I prayed all the time that her cold case would be solved before our mom left this world so that she would be able to rest in peace. Her sisters also need some type of closure so that we may begin to heal.”
Unfortunately, Cathy Taylor the matriarch of the Taylor family passed away on April 18, 2019, without receiving any justice for her daughter.
“Murder is horrible, you can never understand it in any situation. She was so genuine, so down to earth, a great friend and a great person to have. Missy was at home, where we thought she was safe, where she thought she was safe,” stated Sissy.
Missy’s friends always spoke highly of her and sang the famous Hank Williams Jr.’s song changing the lyrics to “If Heaven Ain’t a lot like Missy”. Her friends wanted to commemorate that memory and added the lyrics onto Missy’s Memorial Bench. Missy’s family continues to sing Hank Williams Jr.’s song when it comes on and remembers their beloved Missy.
Casie expressed, “It’s been 35 years, and life goes on, without your loved one- you just get used to it.
You’re walking around with a giant crater, and it cracked your world to the core,
that’s simply the new normal. A hole in your heart.
And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”
The family continues to pray for answers and for the person that did this to come forward.
Missy Taylor Ellison’s case was featured in February 2019 on the UNSOLVED series aired by First Coast News in Jacksonville, Florida.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Melissa “Missy” Taylor Ellison, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.
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