Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater stab victim remembered as 'strong, independent,' loving mother

John Bredeson shares a hug after the service for his daughter.


John Bredeson shares a hug after the service for his daughter.

LARGO — On Feb. 14, Laura Taft, her family and closest friends gathered at a Largo church to say goodbye to Taft's 5-week-old baby boy.

Ten days later, on Tuesday, many of the same people returned to St. Dunstan's Anglican Church. This time it was to say goodbye to Taft.

The 29-year- old mother of two was found stabbed to death Feb. 17 at her Clearwater apartment. Her boyfriend, Craig Wall Sr., has been charged in her death and police said they suspect him in the Feb. 6 death of Craig Wall Jr., the son he had with Taft.

At her memorial service Tuesday, Taft's older brother, Rob, said he refused to focus on Wall, and instead wanted to celebrate Taft, "a strong, independent woman" who adored her infant son and son Connor, who turned 6 on Saturday.

"She had the biggest heart," Rob Bredeson said. "She was a beautiful young lady."

Bredeson said his sister cherished every moment with her sons, and loved to take them to the park or spend the day with Connor, watching cartoons and making macaroni and cheese for him.

Bredeson's wife, Nicole, said Taft was like a sister to her from the moment they met. "We talked like we'd always been best friends, all our lives," she told the congregation through tears.

Taft's ex-husband, Chris Taft, sobbed as he thanked Taft for the "gift" she had brought into his life — their son, Connor, whom he held in his arms as he spoke.

On Tuesday, Wall remained in the Pinellas County Jail. On Sunday, he was extradited from Sumter County, where he was taken into custody a few hours after Taft was found stabbed. He has been charged with first-degree murder and was held without bail.

Wall has not been charged in the death of his son, who was hospitalized Feb. 5 when he stopped breathing while in Wall's care. Clearwater police said they are awaiting a final report from the Medical Examiner's Office. A preliminary report showed the infant had several fractured ribs and head trauma, according to a search warrant.

Those who attended her service said Taft touched many lives in her 29 years.

As the church bells tolled at 5 p.m., the start of her service, dozens of people remained in line to get into the church. Afterward, Taft's family and friends released 29 balloons into the sky — one for each year of her life.

Clearwater stab victim remembered as 'strong, independent,' loving mother 02/23/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 8:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  2. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  3. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000


    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. What you might have missed from the third episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for a third edition of the Annotated Hard Knocks, trying each week to freeze frames and find the tiny nuances of Bucs training camp you might have missed out on. If you see something we missed, hit …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans wears one of teammate Kwon Alexander's red "LI-TI-RILLA" T-shirts, which refer to Alexander being part lion, part tiger and part gorilla, of course. [HBO/NFL FILMS]