The real estate community in Albuquerque, N.M., is still reeling after the apparent homicide Monday of a local real estate broker.
The body of Garland Taylor, 74, a church deacon and an Albuquerque-area real estate professional for over a decade, was found Monday night at a high-end home that he had reportedly shown that morning. Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said it’s not certain whether robbery was a motive in Taylor’s death. The body reportedly showed signs of trauma.
Sheriff’s office investigators said Tuesday that they are looking for a man who Taylor was last seen with on Monday at the site of the 5,400-square-foot for-sale home, which had reportedly been vacant for a couple of months and had a list price of $910,000.
The man with Taylor, who White said is considered a “person of interest” in the homicide investigation, is described as a Hispanic male in his early to mid-30s who is about 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches in height and weighs 170-180 pounds. The man was reportedly well dressed and well groomed when he was seen with Taylor.
The man reportedly said he is a corporate lawyer from Arizona, and he carried a briefcase with a shoulder strap. He reportedly drove a white or light-blue Ford Taurus or other mid-size four-door Ford with Arizona license plates.
The man may have called Taylor from a payphone at about 8:30 a.m. Monday before meeting with him at the for-sale home. White said that the man who met with Taylor could be linked to a series of payphone calls to other area real estate agents.
“The circumstances surrounding the person of interest are very similar to other contact that has been made with other Realtors – someone inquiring about real estate listings in this area,” he said. “Someone has been contacting Realtors in the Albuquerque metro area for the past two to three weeks. (A man) has contacted some of these Realtors by payphone.” There haven’t been any other reports of violent attacks against Realtors in the area, though, White said.
Connie Kounas, an associate broker for Coldwell Banker Legacy’s sales office in Albuquerque, said some area real estate agents may have received suspicious phone calls on the same day of Garland’s death and even after Garland’s death. “We’re all in kind of a shock here right now,” she said.
Kounas worked with Taylor years ago at Hooten Stahl, an independent brokerage in the Albuquerque area that no longer exists. Taylor had since formed his own brokerage, Garland Taylor Real Estate, and he worked alone. Taylor also served as a deacon at First Baptist Church. Prior to his career in real estate, Taylor reportedly worked in the banking industry.
“He was a gentleman’s gentleman,” Kounas said. “He was just so kind. His manners and his integrity – he had the highest integrity It’s hard to think what the motive could have been.”
Kounas said Taylor’s death “unnerved” agents in her office. “It was just such a shock and kind of a scare, too.”
Carole Hartman, a Realtor at Coldwell Banker Legacy, said she last spoke with Taylor a couple of weeks ago to discuss a property. “He was a very nice, well-respected person,” she said. She said that another older male Realtor in the Albuquerque area received a suspicious phone call on the same morning that Taylor received the call from a man at a payphone. “We’re just guessing it was the same person,” Hartman said.
Hartman said agents should definitely pay closer attention to new and prospective clients. “We just have to take more precautions,” she said. It is always safer to meet new clients in an office setting, she said, and to ask to see a driver’s license. She also suggested that agents shouldn’t provide public information in home listings about whether a property is vacant.
The Albuquerque Metropolitan Board of Realtors posted an advisory on its Web site on Tuesday to alert area Realtors about the incident. An advisory on the site states: “The Albuquerque Metropolitan Board of Realtors recommends that you do not meet strangers at your listings. Please meet clients at your office before proceeding on to homes. Do not show listings alone.”
The advisory also asks agents to “please look in your listed homes to see if there is a business card for Garland Taylor for the last two weeks. This is an urgent matter – please respond if you have any information as soon as possible.” Agents who have this business card are advised to contact Linda Forsythe, office coordinator for the Albuquerque board, at (505) 724-3462.
White said that Taylor’s death is a great tragedy. “I’ve been involved in many homicide investigations. I’ve received more phone calls today – not only from Realtors. It is a great loss to this community.”
People who have information about the crime can call (505) 798-7000 or (505) 843-STOP.
Meanwhile, in California, the violent death of another Realtor remains unsolved. The body of agent Julia Buchanan “Deede” Keller was found in the trunk of her 1999 Mercedes-Benz in July in downtown San Diego, Calif., about 120 miles south of her home in El Segundo, Calif.
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