Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Drugs, Sex, and Murder in 1920s Tinseltown

Suspects Aplenty: The Valets

In addition to the mysterious man seen leaving the Taylor apartment by Faith Maclean, there were a number of other suspects. Foremost among these were Taylor's ex-valet, Edward Sands, and his current valet, Henry Peavey.

They were convenient suspects. For one thing, the district attorney was eager to protect the movie industry. For another, Edward Sands was a nefarious character with a less-than-admirable past. 

Edward F. Sands, suspect
Edward F. Sands, suspect

Somewhere around 1920, Sands was hired as Taylor's valet and man of many talents. No doubt, Taylor's acceptance of Sands was that they shared English accents. What Taylor did not know was that Sands had been born in Ohio, and very probably never visited England. Sands (real name: Edward Snyder) had served three times in the United States Navy (using three different names), and ended a strange military career (again, under a false name) as an Army clerk. This bizarre background included one prison sentence (one year for embezzlement), and three desertions. One could safely say that the genial Edward Sands was a first-rate con man.

About six months before Taylor's murder, Sands disappeared after forging several checks with Taylor's signature and taking off with his employer's valuables and car.

He was searched for immediately after his disappearance in 1921, and again after Taylor's death. He was never found.

Also, as attractive a suspect as he was, he was never charged with murder.

Henry Peavey, suspect
Henry Peavey, suspect

Sands was replaced by Henry Peavey, a tall, robust black man who had been arrested (while in Taylor's employ) for lewd behavior, very likely for soliciting young boys. On the day of Taylor's death, Taylor was to have appeared in court on Peavey's behalf.

The first assumption was that Peavey was a likely suspect because he was having an affair with Taylor, or because he may have been soliciting the young boys for Taylor. These speculative leaps fell apart with further investigation, and Peavey was soon dropped as a suspect.

Two suspects down, and at least five more to go.