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

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

DIRK SHADD | Times

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]
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