Taylor Hirth and I are curled up on a leather couch at the home of her friend in Kansas City, Missouri. It is late afternoon, and the only light in the room is from the television playing a tape of Taylor, now 31, sitting in a police interview room. I watch her as she scrutinizes every word and movement on the screen. Is there something that she didn’t say right? Is she remembering all of this correctly? Could she have done something differently? She asks herself these questions all the time.
The date of the recording is Feb. 10, 2016, 11:05 a.m.
Sometime after 1 a.m. on Feb. 9, 2016, the door of Taylor’s apartment was pushed in and she was gang-raped in her own bed in the Kansas City, Missouri, suburb of Independence while her then-2-year-old daughter slept by her side.
For hours, the men took turns raping her. At least, as she tells a detective of the Independence Police Department (IPD) in the video, she thinks it was three, it’s possible there were more — she was facedown in her pillow for part of the time. Later, the men put her pajama pants over her head, lifting them only to ejaculate on her face. She tells the detective about waking up and realizing a man she didn’t know was standing in her bedroom doorway. Before she could sort out what was going on, he ordered her to roll over on her stomach. She screamed, but he jumped on top of her and told her if she screamed again, he would hurt her and her daughter. And then he started raping her. And then he told his buddies to join in.
“At one point, my daughter woke up,” Taylor tells the detective. “I could tell she was sitting up, and I was trying to feel if it was another person. I wanted to make sure no one was near my daughter, that no one was touching her, and I reached up and felt her face and could tell she was there, and she held my hand while they raped me repeatedly and she was watching.”
“This is the part that always gets me,” Taylor tells me as she watches herself crying on screen.
“I was so proud of her for just laying there and being quiet,” she tells the detective. “I was at the point where I was trying to be as calm as possible and take on the persona of somebody who was enjoying what they were experiencing, so whatever she saw, I wanted her to feel safe and feel like Mommy is OK, Mommy wasn’t being hurt, so I held her hand, and I said, ‘It’s OK, honey, these are nice men. Mommy’s just playing with these men. OK, baby, lay back down and go to sleep.”
It is the only time during my five days in Missouri I saw Taylor almost cry.
Read the rest of this investigation at Cosmopolitan