Celebrity Suspects

Silent film director William Desmond Taylor was killed in 1922. Here is footage of a dozen silent film celebrities who were mentioned in connection with the case (Mabel Normand, Mary Miles Minter, Carl Stockdale, Douglas MacLean, Edna Purviance, Antonio Moreno, Arthur Hoyt, Margaret Gibson, Mack Sennett, Marshall Neilan, Gareth Hughes, Neva Gerber).

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Suspect:  Charlotte Shelby (Mother of Mary Miles Minter)

Possible Motive:

She could not abide to have her daughter deeply involved with a man any man.

Evidence (circumstantial and otherwise):

She possessed a gun of the type that killed Taylor.

Her alibi was contrived, and she spent the rest of her life paying the man who supported her alibi, to keep his mouth shut.


Suspect: Mary Miles Minter

Possible Motive:

Probably accidentally. She went to Taylor’s house,  She confronted Taylor with undying devotion, waved the gun in order to convince him that if he did not return her passion she would kill herself. The gun went off. Helpless, she tenderly positioned the mortally wounded Taylor, watched him expire, and returned home.

Evidence (circumstantial and otherwise)

She had used the gun in her earlier bungled suicide attempt.

Love letters from Minter were found in Taylor’s bungalow. Based upon these, the reporters alleged that a sexual relationship between the 49-year-old Taylor and 19-year-old Minter had started when she was 17

Very likely Minter told her mother, and Charlotte devised the cover-up. .Shelby payments may have been to protect her daughter.

Suspect: Mabel Normand Normand 

Possible Motive:

Drug related, perhaps Taylor was threatening to publicly expose her drug use. Jealousy towards Taylor’s relationship with Minter.

Evidence (circumstantial and otherwise)

She was the last person known to have seen Taylor alive.

 Suspect: Edward Sands

Possible Motive:

Blackmail (sex related) or Robbery

Evidence (circumstantial and otherwise)

Worked as Taylor’s valet and cook up until seven months before the murder. While Taylor was in Europe the summer before, Sands had forged Taylor’s checks and wrecked his car. Later Sands burgled Taylor’s bungalow, leaving footprints on the film director’s bed. Following the murder, Edward Sands was never heard from again.


 Suspect: Henry Peavey

Possible Motive:

Blackmail/ Sex related

Evidence (circumstantial and otherwise)

He had a criminal record which included arrests for vagrancy and public indecency involving underaged boys. Taylor had recently put up bail for him and was due to appear in court on his behalf. Eight years later, in 1931, Harvey Peavey died in a San Francisco asylum where he had been hospitalised for syphilis-related dementia

Original Sketches by Dead Ink Scrolls

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