If you're Taylor Lewis' attorney, right now you're cringing, maybe cursing, certainly wishing you had anyone else as a client. Because Taylor Lewis will most certainly be one of those stories you hear about on "Dumb Crook News" in the future.
Taylor, her sister Cassidy, and her brothers Randle and Kenneth were filmed earlier in March walking out of the Anderson County P.A.W.S. adoption center with three puppies they had allegedly taken from separate cages within the facility. According to news accounts employees and volunteers tried to stop them, but the family group climbed into their distinctive white car with the black hood, which was also captured on video, and left the facility with the puppies anyway.
Their clear color photos were on the air and on the internet within hours. One man commented on the Fox Carolina Facebook page that he knew the group, that they were frequently in his convenience store on Hwy 183 in Powdersville. According to later comments, he contacted Anderson County Sheriff's Department with information on the siblings which helped in their apprehension.
Sometime in the early morning hours of March 17th Taylor and her three siblings, tipped by a Facebook friend she thanks on her page, took off for Myrtle Beach, apparently stopping into the same convenient store before leaving. Her last Facebook post, before 10:45 a.m. when the first comment is logged, is "Dang I forgot how long the ride was to the beach. So glad to be out of the car!" One Facebook friend asks "Why you at the beach?" and another friend quips "Running cause y'all wanted? Lmao". Taylor's swift reply is "Cause perry got paid and yeahhhh."
While plenty of criminals have stupidly filmed their crimes in the past, social media adds a whole new tool for law enforcement to use in the apprehension and prosecution of individuals who break the law. Reading the comments by Taylor and those who apparently know Taylor under her last post makes it obvious that she isn't a person who thinks things through carefully before acting, and other posts by her indicate that she believes her looks will get her out of trouble when she finds herself in it. On February 13, for instance, she posts "I just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket." In an earlier post about another arrest, instead of taking ownership of her actions, she attempts to blame it on her older sister Cassidy: "It's bc her oldest is a f***ing idiot. Cassidy didn't learn anything going to jail. I'm praying that they both get arrested tomorrow for the Pickens thing." This post, in three sentences, shows that at least one family member has a history of multiple arrests.
Reading through the more than 140 comments as of this writing is a snapshot into typical social media. There are comments from people threatening Taylor, comments from people defending Taylor, comments from people trying to save Taylor, and comments from internet trolls who seem to get off on cutting everyone down. But the most disturbing comments are between and about Taylor and people she obviously knows in real life. Some examples:
"I bet you having fun."
"Y'all gonna make it worse on y'all by running"
"Omfg! Yall are retarded Taylor lol"
"Yall go 'talk ' to them....your gitting arrested!! Lol"
Taylor's response to these comments indicates again that she was aware she was wanted, and she implicates a Facebook friend of hers in 'aiding and abetting': "Everybody says they love you catie! Thank you for calling us this morning with the heads up."
Her next comment is in response to many of the other comments telling her and her siblings how dumb they are for what they have done and for her posting on Facebook about it: "THANK YOU!! I know this already but any other person who commented needs to go on! You all sound dumb. We saved those pups they had been in those cages for at least a month and one had no water. You're all pathetic and obviously have no life r you wouldn't be commenting blowing MY news feed up all day."
One minute later: "We didn't "bait" them or fight them. We GAVE THEM AWAY. Not the crime of the century. So like I said catie Tina Kelsey Shannon y'all don know s**t about the law pbviously."
That would be her last Facebook posting, presumably because she was in custody and unable to continue. But her friends and others have continued to build Anderson County's case for them, including a chilling screenshot posted by one individual that shows Taylor posting on January 17th asking "Does anybody know someone I can get a puppy from?". This comment is no longer currently showing publicly on Taylor's Facebook page though. Other comments claim that she has allegedly stolen and sold puppies before.
While she claims that she gave the puppies away, others post allege that she and her siblings sold the puppies for prices ranging from $50 each to $200 each for money to buy drugs. Some posts claim that she was arrested and spent time in jail recently (location unknown) for shoplifting. While this information could not be verified, mug shots of her sister Cassidy and her brother Randle were found where they were arrested in Pickens County on March 13th for Third Degree Burglary and Petit Larceny. (http://126.96.36.199/DCN/inmateDetailsHistory.aspx?id=VmTz%2bhQlSyc%3d&bid...) and (http://188.8.131.52/dcn/inmateDetailsHistory.aspx?id=sBgSjJZqVKM%3d&bid=O...)
Taylor and her family no doubt have a long road ahead of them with regards to law enforcement and legal representation. Likely when she gets out of jail one of her first acts, on advice from her attorney, will be to make her Facebook page private and to remove any incriminating posts from the page. Unfortunately the damage may already be done. Her admissions and the comments of others who know her personally will make it quite difficult for her to mount an adequate defense of anything other than "I was young and stupid." Luckily for her, her Facebook even has her covered there - on March 11th she posts "I would not be proud if the only way I could make money was by being a snitch." and on March 16th she posts "Really thankful today for all that God has done for me in my life." One would suspect she's not so much feeling the latter any longer.
While it's still available, Taylor Lewis' Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/taylor.lewis.5264?fref=pb&hc_location=friends_tab. As of the writing of this article, the puppies have not been found. If you know the whereabouts of the stolen puppies, please contact the Anderson County Sheriffs Department at 864-260-4400 or 888-CRIME-SC. You can remain anonymous.