Christine Englehardt, 24, ran marathons, was studying nursing, and managed a pizza restaurant outside Philadelphia. This month, she decided to travel alone to Miami Beach, which has attracted thousands of young people from across the country during a raucous spring break.
Hundreds of miles away in North Carolina, Evoire Collier, 21, was a former high school athlete who lost his mother to illness in high school and told surrogate family members that he hoped to become an occupational therapist. He’d moved in with an older friend, Dorian Taylor, 24, with a murky past, and the two flew to South Florida for the party scene.
Their lives intersected last week in what police describe as a predatory assault that left Englehardt dead inside South Beach’s Albion Hotel. Collier and Taylor are now in a Miami-Dade jail, accused of drugging and raping her, then stealing her credit cards to continue the partying. She was found dead inside the hotel room, and the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s is trying to determine if she died of an overdose.
The story, first reported by the Miami Herald, has added to international attention on Miami Beach. The city has been swamped by sometimes unruly crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic, police officers have clashed with partiers and officials have instituted an 8 p.m. curfew.
In Pennsylvania, Englehardt’s friends and family are reeling. They’ve started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the funeral. As of Wednesday, the page had already raised over $29,000.
“She had one of those laughs that that could light up an entire room,” said her friend, Samantha DiFrancesco, who is organizing the fundraiser. “She’s the last person you’d ever expect anything like this to happen to.”
DiFrancesco said it wasn’t out of character for her to want to explore alone, although she added: “We’re all trying to figure out why she wanted to go down to Florida.”
An only child, she still lived with her parents in Richboro, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles outside Philadelphia. On her Facebook page, she often shared about animals: a story about a pig rescued from a slaughterhouse, video of a male pug cuddling with his puppies, a plea for people to adopt dogs from an animal shelter.
She was studying nursing at Bucks Community College, DiFrancesco said. As she studied, Englehardt worked as an assistant manager at Jules Thin Crust, a local pizza chain.
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Englehardt was also an avid runner and a 2019 Facebook post indicates she was cautious about her surroundings while running alone. In it, she described an encounter with a suspicious man in what looked to be a broken-down car who’d repeatedly tried flagging her down as she ran outside Tyler State Park in Pennsylvania. She alerted park rangers.
“So if you ever feel unsafe in ANY way or have a feeling something isn’t right, DON’T hesitate to notify the police. Always go with your gut,” she wrote. “Please be on alert for any suspicious people or cars. This is a dangerous world now unfortunately and you never know what anyone’s true intentions are.”
For whatever reason, she did not pick up on what Miami Beach police say were the dangerous intentions of the two men she met in South Beach on March 18.
According to an arrest report, Collier confessed that he and Taylor met the woman at a restaurant and that Taylor gave the girl a “green pill” as they walked on Ocean Drive.
Collier told police that he believed the drug was Percocet, a powerful pain reliever, a Miami Beach detective testified during Monday’s bond hearing. Collier said “that he went along with [Taylor] as they planned to have sex with the victim,” according to the report.
Police said that by the time Taylor got Englehardt to the Albion Hotel, she could barely stand and he had to hold her up as they got in the elevator. The arrest report said that the men sexually assaulted her in her room even as she fell unconscious, then stole her cell phone and credit cards before leaving.
It was unclear from the arrest report whether Englehardt was drinking before she met them, and whether she took the pill willingly, or if she was given it surreptitiously. A toxicology report will eventually determine the role of drugs and alcohol in her death.
“The fact that the victim was under the influence of alcohol and narcotics, she could not have consented to sex with the defendants,” according to the police report.
Englehardt was pronounced dead in the hotel room. Collier and Taylor are accused of using her credit cards to make purchases during their stay in Miami Beach, and Taylor was discovered days later with her phone.
Miami Beach detectives tracked down the men with help from hotel surveillance footage.
Taylor and Collier have been ordered held without bond in a Miami-Dade County jail. The charges: burglary with battery, sexual battery, petty theft and the fraudulent use of a credit card. They could face a potential manslaughter or murder charge if investigators can tie her to death to the drugs she ingested.
Collier is now on suicide watch at the jail — he appeared for Monday’s bond hearing wearing a padded vest designed so that inmates cannot hurt themselves. His aunt, Tanda Collier, said the family is stunned that he was involved in the death of Englehardt.
But Tanda Collier said she believes Taylor is to blame and that her nephew was scared of the older man.
“It’s devastating. My whole heart is praying for her family,” Tanda Collier said, adding of her nephew: “He’s a good kid. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Evoire Collier had never before been arrested, according to court testimony and his family.
He attended high school in Durham, North Carolina, but lost his mother to illness. His father was not part of his life. To remain close to school, he moved in with the family of a high school friend, said Adrienne Long, the friend’s mother who took him in.
Long described Collier as a good student who ran track and played basketball. After graduating, he considered joining the military. Collier eventually moved into an apartment in Greensboro, North Carolina, with Taylor. Long said she did not know much about Taylor’s life, but that she and her family believed he was a bad influence.
“He definitely was in the company of this older guy who could possibly influence him,” Long said. “He wasn’t hanging out with his [usual] friends.”
She added of Collier: “He’s an honest person. He’s gullible ... he’s not some monster. He wasn’t a predator.”
Collier told his family he was going to South Beach this month to try and make connections in the music industry. When confronted by police, Collier confessed in detail. Taylor did not.
“Dorian is a seasoned criminal. He knew damn well not to speak,” Long said.
Little is known about Taylor. His family could not be reached for comment. The Public Defender’s Office, which represents Taylor, declined to comment on Wednesday morning.
Public records for a Dorian Taylor born in 1996 show multiple arrests in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. In the Ohio case, the man was arrested and convicted for carrying a concealed weapon in 2018.
The same person also did 24 months of probation for a burglary conviction out of Bay County, Florida. The Dorian Taylor sitting in a Miami-Dade jail is listed as having been born on the same day and year, but a different month. However, mugshots — taken five years apart — appear to show the same person.
No arraignment date for Taylor has been set. He’s already pleaded not guilty, through his lawyer. Collier’s arraignment date is set for April 5.
As for Englehardt’s relatives, they are working to schedule a funeral.
“Christine Englehardt’s life was taken from her,” the GoFundme page said. “Two men who don’t deserve to be named stole this woman’s entire future in a very sickening way and put her mother and father in a great deal of heartbreak.”