Final autopsy released in former radio host’s death

79-year-old Raphael "Ray" Taliaferro is missing out of Massac County and was last seen in...
79-year-old Raphael "Ray" Taliaferro is missing out of Massac County and was last seen in Paducah.
Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 2:43 PM CDT
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Taliaferro's son wants answers

PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - The final autopsy results for a well-known, former radio host found dead in Paducah, Kentucky have been released.

According to McCracken County Coroner Amanda Melton, the cause of for 79-year-old Raphael “Ray” Taliaferro’s death is hypertensive cardiovascular disease with a probable contribution by hypothermia/environmental exposure.

No foul play was indicated in Taliaferro’s death.

Taliaferro's son said he needs answers and he's taking his own steps to get them.

"A lot of mixed emotions going on, said Raphael Taliaferro, Jr. “Right now I feel like our family is being robbed."

Taliaferro Jr is the son of the deceased prominent radio host Ray Taliaferro.

Sunday he came to Paducah from California to get involved in the search effort for his dad, but ended up landing with horrible news.

"Basically try to figure out why he was down here,” he said. “What were Charlotte Crawford’s intentions in bringing him down here?”

Charlotte Crawford is the widow of the radio host. According to his son, they married this past June. Taliaferro, Jr said he believes the change of location from his home of the condition of the hotel triggered his father’s dementia.

“He was suffering from severe dementia,” he said. “She took him out of his element put him in a cheap motel for a night. You know he’s out here in the country, this isn’t where he is from. He doesn’t do this, and when you do that to people with dementia, it sends them over the edge. They become disoriented, agitated and sends them over the edge. And that’s what happened to my father.”

Taliaferro’s son said he hired an independent private investigator to help him get answers. Paducah police say they were not aware it.

According to Paducah Police, two teens found the Taliaferro’s body on Sunday afternoon in a wooded area off South 25th St. and Brooks Stadium Dr.

A post on Sunday night, Dec. 2, on a GoFundMe page raising money for the search of that stated that the family is devastated at the ending.

“It is with great sadness that the Taliaferro family has to announce the passing of Ray Taliaferro. His body was found in Paducah, Kentucky in a wooded area approximately a mile from where he was last seen. The family appreciates the support and help we received in our search for Ray. This is a devastating ending to our search for him over these past weeks. The family is in the process of working with the police to learn the matters surrounding his death. At this time, we are processing this turn of events and ask for privacy as we work through our loss.”

The Taliaferro Family


According to the Massac County Sheriff’s Office, Ray Taliaferro was last seen on November 10 near the Mellow Mushroom restaurant in Paducah.

He and his wife were in the Heartland to look at some family property near Brookport, Illinois.

That’s why the Massac County Sheriff’s Office was leading the search.

Deputies were looking for Taliaferro on foot on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in the areas near where his car was found parked.

Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder said he may have left the area and could be making his way back to California. Sheriff Holder said his office has reached out the FBI field offices in Marion and San Francisco for help in the search.

His wife, Charlotte Crawford, said Taliaferro had “forgetful spells.”

Bob Butler, the past National President of National Association of Black Journalists, is a long-time friend of Taliaferro.

“He’s one of those people that when you think of Bay area talk radio and you mentioned the name Ray Taliaferro people know who you are talking about because everyone used to listen to him at one time or another," he said.

Butler went through his accolades back in San Francisco.

“He was former President of the NAACP here, former Board President of the Leukemia Society," he said. "I mean very accomplished man. The fact that we don’t know where he is , is very troubling to a lot of us here in the Bay area.”

Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder said Taliaferro’s wife reported him missing on Nov. 10.

“It is a concern especially for somebody his age, if he has no phone or credit cards to get around. he’s got cash,” said Holder.

Six days later on Friday, Nov. 16, the sheriff’s office received more information.

On that Wednesday, the Independence Bank noticed the car. They reported it on that Friday.

Sheriff Holder explained Taliaferro’s last whereabouts.

“It appears now he was seen at the bank across from the Mellow Mushroom, talked to some people in the bank. He went to the Mellow Mushroom and talked to some people," Holder said. "Then probably the last person that actually saw him that we know of right now is Mr. Henry at the West End Baptist Church.”

Brian Henry is the director of music at the church that is about a half of a mile from the Mellow Mushroom.

He explained Taliaferro went to the front doors of the church on 28th Street first. Henry directed him to the back because he did not have the key.

“My wife and I were here at the church working when a gentleman came to the back door here and knocked on the door," Henry said. “It’s not unusual for someone to come by when cars are here, so I let him and he introduced himself as Ray Taliaferro, and proceeded to tell me his life story. He kept repeating ... ‘I’ve lived a very interesting life,' he’s said that several times.”

Taliaferro was also in nice clothes and was “well-kept,” Henry said.

The former radio host stayed and talked for about 15 minutes, according to Henry.

(Source: National Association of Black Journalists)
(Source: National Association of Black Journalists)

Butler said he believed Taliaferro’s actions to be very unusual.

“Even the friends he has here [in San Francisco] would say that would be very uncharacteristic of Ray," Butler said. "Whenever he would do something he would want people to know about it. Everyone here is hoping that he is fine and he’s going to show up one day because to think otherwise we don’t even want to think about that.”

Taliaferro was inducted in the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011.

The investigation is ongoing.

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