How A Surfing Hall of Fame Inductee Got Wrapped Up In A Family Murder Plot
I mean, who hasn’t considered hiring a hitman to kill their ex, right?
If you’ve spent a decent amount of time around surfboard shapers and glassers, you’ll find decades around resin and catalyst fumes can create quite an interesting breed.
But it’s a chicken-or-egg situation. Is it constant exposure to toxic chemicals and lackluster safety conditions that breeds unique human specimens? Or is it a proclivity for inhalants and an already slightly deranged nature that attracts them to the industry?
Whichever the case, they’re not typically violent.
Weird? Sure. Often unreliable? Absolutely. Half-mad cross between inventor and artist? Almost always.
But you wouldn’t expect a family of board builders from Huntington beach to get involved in a murder-for-hire plot.
But knowing the breed, if they did, you’d expect them to make a total shit show of it.
Which is what happened in 2015, when the Taylor clan; Joseph, Matthew, father John, (who is a Surfing Hall of Fame inductee) attempted to hire a hitman to take out Matthew’s ex-wife.
At root was a custody dispute over Matthew’s daughter. The Taylors enlisted family friend, Travis Sprague, handed him five grand, and sent him out to find a killer.
But the world isn’t John Wick, and hitmen don’t lurk on every corner.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sprague did what every normal human would. He went to the police.
What followed next would, in the hands of a decent screenwriter, make for a hilariously dark bungled caper film. Orange County cops, armed with amusing vato accents, posed as members of the Mexican Mafia and captured brother Joseph’s attempts to hire them.
Joseph ended up pleading out and received a twenty three year sentence. Matthew and John went uncharged due to lack of evidence and are back in HB fixing dings and building boards.
Recently Crime Watch Daily, hosted by Chris Hansen of To Catch a Predator fame, produced a lovely segment covering the entire affair. It includes reenactions, hidden camera footage, a prosecutor in a terrible suit, a swelling score, and a victim who made the interesting choice of providing on camera interviews while declining to disclose her name.
You can see Part One up top, and the rest, below. At twenty minutes, it’s worth a watch. Especially if you live in the OC and are in the market for a new ding repair guy.*
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