Career criminal kidnapped, killed Cocoa mother set to testify against him, police say

Joshua Taylor accused of killing Tashaun Jackson

COCOA, Fla. – Cocoa police said they have arrested a suspect in connection with the slaying of Tashaun Jackson, who was reported missing on Feb. 9.

Joshua Taylor, 30, was booked into the Brevard County Jail early Wednesday morning after he was arrested at his mother's home.

Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe described Taylor as a career criminal.

"We believe that Joshua Taylor calculated the killing, he kidnapped her and took her out to Osceola County and killed her," Cantaloupe said.

The chief said Taylor killed Jackson because she was set to testify against him in an upcoming case.

Jackson, a mother of four, was reported missing by her family, who suspected all along the suspect was involved in her disappearance.

Taylor was arrested on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is being held without bond in the Brevard County Jail.

Police believe Jackson, a mother of four, was killed after she left a 7-Eleven in Cocoa earlier this month. From the beginning the family suspect Taylor.

"We were right this entire time. We knew we were right," Jackson's aunt Sharon Jones-Smith said. "We knew that Tashaun did not just walk away."

Jackson's body was found several days later in a remote area of Osceola County. 

Court records show Taylor was arrested last year in a burglary with assault or battery case involving Jackson. She was preparing to testify against Taylor in that case. Her family said she had expressed fear of Taylor and had received threats to change her story.

The victim's family said Taylor was staying at an apartment 200 to 500 feet away from Jackson.

He was out on $15,000 bond when police said he killed Jackson. He could have faced life in prison if convicted in the case Jackson would have testified in, Cantaloupe said.

"I believe that there should have been some type of witness protection," Jones-Smith said, adding that this tragedy should be a lesson for the way law enforcement and the justice system "handle crimes against women."

"If we want people to report crimes they’ve got to feel safe doing so," she said.

Jackson funeral will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at East Coast Christian Center. Her aunt said it will be a closed casket because the condition her body was found in.

"He robbed us of the right to be able to look down on her and say our last goodbyes," Jones-Smith said, wearing a T-shirt that said #BringTashaunHome.

The case doesn't stop with Taylor's arrest, family members said. They plan to be there every step of the way as he is tried for Jackson's murder.

"We can bury her with the solace that someone is paying for it. He’s off the streets. We’re not going to stop," Jones-Smith said, adding "Justice for Tashaun."

About the Authors:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!