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Witness IDs kidnap suspect

She says they were once lovers; lawmaker's son still missing

A billboard at 52nd and Walnut streets in West Philly offers a reward for information on Shamari Taylor, son of state Rep. John Myers.
A billboard at 52nd and Walnut streets in West Philly offers a reward for information on Shamari Taylor, son of state Rep. John Myers.Read more

Surrounded by family members, state Rep. John Myers watched yesterday as one of his son's alleged kidnappers was identified by an ex-girlfriend.

Caren Murphy, 22, testified that on the night of Aug. 26, 2006, she was in a car with Shamari Taylor, 26 - Myers' son - when several men emerged from two vehicles, blindfolded the couple with duct tape and forced them into a van.

All but two of the kidnappers were masked, she said. Murphy identified Kenneth Tuck, 34, of Overbrook, the defendant, as the unmasked man who grabbed Taylor.

Murphy said she was sure it was him because when she was 15 (and he was 28), she had been Tuck's lover for three months.

She said he had more hair then - he's bald now - and less beard, but she recognized him when he got out of a van to grab Taylor on Woodbine Road near Pennington Road in Overbrook.

Blindfolded, Murphy and Taylor were driven to what Murphy believes was a warehouse. There, she heard Taylor screaming and pleading for his life. He has not been seen since.

None of the alleged kidnappers except Tuck has been arrested.

Murphy, who was released by her captors within hours, said she believes Taylor was a cocaine dealer and that the kidnappers were after his drug money.

In his opening remarks, Assistant District Attorney Gonen Haklay said Tuck was part of a "brutal, well planned out" kidnapping and robbery during which the perpetrators "tortured that young man to the point that he's never been seen since."

Haklay said that Murphy "was one of the few mistakes these men made. They let her out alive."

Haklay said that Murphy did not let their death threats stop her from identifying Tuck.

Defense attorney Christopher Warren said that Murphy is either "misidentifying" or "falsely identifying" Tuck.

On the night of the kidnapping, Warren said, "My client was at home playing cards with friends and family on the porch."

He said those friends and family would testify, as would Tuck.

After court, Myers said that when he first heard the news of his son's kidnapping, "It was taking me out. I was saying, 'No. Not my son.' "

"But these [drug dealing] revelations today," Myers said, "had come out earlier at the preliminary - things [Murphy] said, things the police officers said.

"He got in over his head. From my perspective as a father, I just want somebody to tell me where my son's at so I can do what I have to do. I hope somebody has the humanity to do that."

Myers said his son had passed the carpenter's apprenticeship exam and was trying to get into Laborers Local 332's training program.

"He was always asking me for small amounts of money - 'Dad, I need $10,' " Myers said. "But I heard testimony that he was counting out $50,000 in bills. So maybe he asked for the $10 to keep me away from what was really going on with him." *