The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 20, 2012

Man charged in wife's 2002 murder

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Reporter

— West Virginia State Police obtained a warrant for a Waynesboro, Va., man for the decade-old murder of his wife, according to Waynesboro Police.

While investigating Thomas Neal Tait, 52, in 2011 on charges of child porn and sexual abuse, police realized Tait’s wife, Karen Santillan Tait, was missing.

Karen legally immigrated to the United States in July 2000 and she had a child about a year later. By piecing together information from friends and her family overseas, police learned Karen’s whereabouts became unknown in 2002.

Thomas Tait told investigators that Karen simply left and he presumed that she had returned to her family in the Philippines, and she had no contact with him or her child since.

In December 2011, Waynesboro Police declared Karen Tait a missing person and she was entered into the National Criminal Information Center and a DNA profile was developing using DNA from her biological child and her parents in the Philippines.

That’s when her profile was linked to unidentified remains found September 2002 in the Greenbrier State Forest. In October this year, the West Virginia Medical Examiner determined that the remains were those of Karen Tait, who would have been 23 at the time of her death.

Thomas Tait was convicted Sept. 26 for 20 counts of possession of child pornography. The child abuse investigation against him is ongoing.

On Friday, Waynesboro Police were informed that the West Virginia State Police obtained a warrant for Tait, who is currently incarcerated at Middle River Regional Jail in Staunton, Va. He has been charged with the murder of his wife.

Even though a warrant has been obtained against Tait for the murder, the investigation is ongoing by both the Waynesboro and State Police.

Anyone who knew Karen or Thomas Tait, especially between 2000 and 2002 while they resided at 908 Fairfax Ave., Apt. #1, in Waynesboro, are asked to contact Cpl. Alyssa Campbell at 540-942-6511 or Crime Stoppers, 800-322-2017.

In addition, officers are trying to locate information concerning a 1990 bluish gray Cadillac Deville bearing Vehicle Identification Number 1G6CD5339L4366432. This vehicle was owned by the Taits during the same time period and is visible in at least one photo of the couple in an unknown wooded area.

Anyone with information is requested to call 540-942-6511 or alternatively they may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-322- 2017.      

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com