Stab Magazine | How A Surfing Hall of Fame Inductee Got Wrapped Up In A Family Murder Plot

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?

cinema // May 3, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.*–_LJEFFY



Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

How A Former CT Surfer Gets “Absolute Beginners” Barreled In A Matter Of Months

Luke Stedman elaborates on his Blackball surf programs.

Aug 7, 2022


Sweeter Than Stolen Honey 

A versatile Haydenshapes x Dylan Graves HP (and soft board) tested in weird waves.

Aug 7, 2022

15-Year-Old Ladybird Erin Brooks Makes Final In All-Men’s Tuberiding Event

And Clay Marzo takes the dub.

Aug 6, 2022

Are We Looking At Reef Sculpting The Wrong Way? 

The pros, cons, possibilities, and mechanisms of changing reefs to suit our surfing desires.

Aug 6, 2022

The Gudang Trio Discusses Brotherhood And How To Make It To The Mountain Top Together  

Positive sibling vibrations we should all aspire to.

Aug 6, 2022


Everyone’s Local Zone Has A Mythical Wave

Kai Lenny, Imaikalani DeVault, Eli Hanneman and friends get to surf theirs.

Aug 5, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: Harry Bryant Vs. The Wedge

A lot of swell, stolen identities, surf masochists, mutilated noses, The Wedge, skull-crushing pylons, and…

Aug 5, 2022

When Gabby And Kolohe Pull Out, The Hog Pulls In

Tahiti wildcards named.

Aug 5, 2022

First Look: The 2022 Electric Acid Surfboards

Did our questionable EAST gamble pay off for Mick Fanning's Maldivian quiver ?

Aug 4, 2022

How Boardshorts Work

They are your one chance to look cool while actually surfing. Don’t blow it.

Aug 4, 2022

A Surf/Snow/Music Fez In The Heart Of Melbourne 

URBNSURF is throwing an action-sports/live music DOOF this month and Stab Premium members are getting…

Aug 4, 2022

Peace, Love, And Mung Beans: 7 Things I Learned From Mick Fanning

Ranging from surf travel hacks to philosophy to jingle lyrics.

Aug 2, 2022

The Three Million Dollar Chinese Storm

500 board orders, coaching armies, and trips around the world — here's how China’s Olympic…

Aug 1, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: Does The Huntington Hop Actually Work?

Ed Templeton explains Huntington Beach, the ugliest maneuver in surfing returns, a horde of strange…

Aug 1, 2022

So Long, S-Turns

Famous Outer Banks surf spot becomes a scenic detour.

Jul 31, 2022

What’s Going On With Stab Edit Of The Year? 

Update time.

Jul 31, 2022


Watch: Laurie Towner Spent 8 Months On The Road In Australia

Guess how many waves he found.

Jul 30, 2022

WSL Says: No Seignosse For You!

Who is helped and who is hurt by France's abandoned CS event?

Jul 30, 2022