Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ken Taylor and the Death of Jordan Shelton

A Troubled Boy & a Popular Foster Father

Published: 04/17/2012

Jordan Kaleb Shelton
Jordan Kaleb Shelton
Jordan Kaleb Shelton's troubles began at birth. He was delivered with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and had to be resuscitated. Jordan was always behind his peers developmentally -- he was held back in kindergarten and fourth grade, and teachers reported his IQ was in the 70's -- borderline mental retardation. His grades were uniformly terrible and Jordan soon fell into the typical slacker teen offenses -- truancy, smoking/dipping tobacco, disobeying dress code by wearing a rebel flag belt-buckle -- but his teachers recall he didn't always seem to understand why he was being punished.

Jordan's mother Shelly never married Jordan's father Rodney Webb -- the boy never really knew his father until he was a young teen. By 2007, Jordan was in the custody of Tennessee's Department of Children's Services (DCS) who placed him in shelters and foster homes. At one point, Jordan ran away for several months until he was picked up in the vicinity of his mother's home. Jordan tested positive for use of marijuana and was prone to huffing materials to get high. Jordan had already cycled through various home placements when his caseworker at Omni Visions Inc. -- a private company contracted by Tennessee's Department of Children's Services (DCS) to help with its enormous caseload -- placed the 16-year-old in the home of a foster father known to deal well with troubled boys: Kenneth Wayne Taylor.

A Popular Foster Father

Ken and Lisa Taylor were considered excellent foster parents -- they would often be sent difficult teenage boys because Ken Taylor was a weightlifter, healthy eater and devout Baptist. His defense team said Taylor considered it his "ministry" to help at-risk teenage boys. Foster sons in the Taylors' home at 725 Pinewood Circle in Morristown, Tennessee were expected to go to church, eat well, and exercise regularly with Ken. Lisa Taylor home-schooled their twin sons Jesse and Justin so she was always available to help foster kids with their homework. The Taylors had started a carpet-cleaning company out of their home, and Ken offered his foster-children a chance to work for spending money -- reinforcing money management and work skills to last the rest of their lives. He would constantly tell his charges they should always strive to "have a dollar in their pocket like Davy Crockett." All told between 2001-2007, the Taylors hosted over 60 young men (the Taylors never took girls). The Taylors received $1100/month to house Jordan. At the same time Jordan Shelton was in their home, the Taylors were caring for another teen named Rodney Todd Wilson as well, so in November 2007 Omni Visions was paying the Taylors about $2000 per month (tax free) to house Jordan and Wilson.

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