Log in Subscribe

Former educator pleads guilty to helping murderer escape

By TERENCE CORRIGAN - Special to the T-G
Posted 11/29/22

Tiffany Dawn Taylor, 38, of Lewisburg, pled guilty on Oct, 21, to being an accessory in the Sept. 13, 2021 murder of a 14-year-old boy in Shelbyville.

Taylor is a college graduate. She told …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Former educator pleads guilty to helping murderer escape


Tiffany Dawn Taylor, 38, of Lewisburg, pled guilty on Oct, 21, to being an accessory in the Sept. 13, 2021 murder of a 14-year-old boy in Shelbyville.

Taylor is a college graduate. She told Judge Forest A. Durard Jr., at her sentencing hearing, that she was a teacher. She was previously employed as an educational assistant by the Marshall County School District from August 2015 to May 2016.

The victim in the murder, a freshman at Shelbyville Central High School, died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Six shots were fired into the car where the boy sat. Horatio Lewis Rice, 39, (also known as ARSO) pled guilty on April 18 to the murder. Rice is serving a life sentence (51 years) with no chance for parole, plus 50 years for other charges connected with the crime. He must serve the sentences consecutively (one after the other) which means he will never walk free. 

Taylor admitted her involvement in helping Rice to flee from Shelbyville and attempting to evade arrest. 

If found guilty at a jury trial, Taylor could have been sentenced to one to six years in prison and a $3,000 fine. Taylor’s conviction in the plea deal resulted in a prison sentence of 18 months. She must serve a minimum of 30 percent ( 5 and 1/2 months) before being eligible for early release. When she stood before the judge for sentencing on Oct. 21, she had already served nearly 5 and 1/2 months of jail time, while awaiting trial, which will be deducted from her sentence meaning she was eligible for release that day.  As of Tuesday, Nov. 8, however, she was still incarcerated in the Bedford County Jail.

After her arrest in September 2021, Taylor was released on a $50,000 bond to await trial. However,  seven months after her release on bond she was rearrested for allegedly stealing property valued at over $2,500 from an antique store in Shelbyville. 


Police believe that the shooting murder of the Shelbyville boy was a case of mistaken identity. 

When interviewed by police, after her arrest, Taylor said that Rice shot at the car the victim was seated in thinking he was shooting at a criminal gang member, Michael Gamble, also known as “Bino.” Gamble is reportedly a member of the Vice Lords, a criminal gang that is a major player in drug distribution throughout Tennessee. Gamble had been arrested, five days before the Shelbyville shooting, in Lewisburg on charges of possession of drugs with intent to sell.


The shooting occurred shortly before 9 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2021. The victim and his older brother had just gotten into the older brother’s black 2017 Nissan, Altima after folding their laundry at the Duck River Laundry on North Main Street in Shelbyville. The boys’ parents had also been at the laundry, doing the family’s laundry, but the parents left a few minutes before the shooting. The boys were preparing to leave when the shooting occurred.

Police interviewed several witnesses and persons of interest in their investigation resulting in a convoluted tale.

One witness, an employee of the Huddle House restaurant, told police that he had seen a black male and a white male running through the parking lot of a nearby motel around the time of the shooting. 

Another witness said after hearing gunshots he also saw two men, one black and one white, running in the motel parking lot behind the Duck River Laundry.

]Two other witnesses told police they saw a black male running away from the scene carrying a handgun. One of those witnesses was standing outside in front of a motel behind the laundry, the other was in a room of the same motel on the third floor. 

Police collected video surveillance from the laundry and the  Little Caesar’s pizza restaurant next door. Both videos showed a black male shooting at the parked vehicle at the laundry and then running from the scene. 

Video surveillance, before the shooting, showed a silver 2007 Chrysler, Sebring driven by Tiffany Taylor pull into the parking lot of the pizza restaurant.


Around the time of the shooting, according to statements of people who were at the scene and admitted to association with the shooter that night, Rice, there were five other people around the crime scene at the time of the shooting. 

Three of those who were associates of Rice and in the immediate vicinity of the shooting have past or recent criminal involvements: William L. Ballinger, 29, (arrested for car theft in Aug, 2022), Michael Anthony Caldwell (named as a person of interest in the murder of the 14-year-old) and Brian Keith Tucker (charged with TennCare fraud in 2014). Other people who were allegedly in the immediate vicinity of the shooting included Stephanie Fox and Ballinger’s girlfriend. Rice and Taylor and the others who were in association with Rice on the night of the shooting were all staying at the Shelbyville Inn. 


Shortly after the shooting, Rice and Taylor packed up their belongings and left town in a silver 2007 Chrysler, Sebring (believed to belong to Taylor) that was recorded on surveillance video at the scene of the shooting. 

Using cellphone tracking and video surveillance investigators learned that Rice and Taylor were at the Wal-Mart in Dickson buying food two days after the shooting in Shelbyville. 

One day later (Sept. 16) the pair was recorded on surveillance video in a Wal-Mart in Oakland where they bought more food and white spray paint which they later used to repaint the silver Chrysler.

On Sept. 17, Taylor’s mother contacted police and showed them a text message she received from Taylor. (Taylor had used a new cellphone to send the text message.)  “I love u mom,” she wrote. “Tell the kids I love them. I’ll be home soon. We r innocent. Wrong place wrong time. We just wanted food. Please Please delete this. I’ok. I’m around close. Please tell kids I love them n mommy will be home soon. Plz plz don’t tell anyone I txt. We r proving our inno7 before I go home. That guy set us up. I promise you. We were just trying to get jobs and do tight. Please trust me.”

Armed with the IP address of Taylor’s new cellphone, police were again able to track the pair to America’s Best Value Inn in Robinsonville, Mississippi. Officers with a U.S. Marshal Service Taskforce found the Chrysler at the motel. As law enforcement officers closed in, Rice attempted, unsuccessfully, to escape, hiding in the boiler room of the hotel.

Investigators learned that Taylor had checked into the hotel using the name Kaitlin Epperson. She had presented a Tennessee identification card in the name of Epperson. 

Taylor told police that Rice forced her to flee from Tennessee and held her against her will. She told police she was not involved in the murder of the 14-year-old in Shelbyville. 

Rice also agreed to speak with police immediately after he was captured. During his interview, Rice admitted to the shooting , saying it was a case of mistake identity. He said he thought the car belonged to someone he had “trouble with.” Rice did not tell police who he thought was in the car.