On the 18th of August 1963, Margaret ‘Peggy’ Beck was getting ready to spend her last night at the five-day Girl Scout camping trip in the Pike National Forest in Colorado. She was now a counsellor, and this was her first time looking after younger scouts.
The 16-year-old’s tent mate, Claudia was ill with a cold that night, so she opted to spend the final evening in the warm infirmary instead, as to not make her sickness worse. Peggy slept alone in the tent, 30 feet away from the 24 scouts and three adult chaperones.
The next morning, the scouts were due to head home, and the girls began to pack up their gear. When Peggy didn’t get up for breakfast, Claudia unzipped the tent to wake her and found Peggy still in her sleeping bag, dead.
At first, it was thought that Peggy had died from natural causes, but as the day went on, fingertip bruises began to appear circling her neck and it was soon apparent that she had been murdered. She had also been sexually assaulted.
The police had no suspects and Peggy Beck’s case soon went cold.
In 2007, a DNA profile was created from evidence left at the crime scene and it was entered into CODIS. It wasn’t until 2019 that a full profile was made from the DNA sample and it was sent for genealogy testing at United Data Collect.
This year, it was announced that the DNA sample matched to James Raymond Taylor, who was 23 years old at the time of Peggy’s murder and would be 80 years old now. The family member who helped identify Taylor, told investigators that his last known whereabouts was in Las Vegas, but he hadn’t been seen since 1976.
At the time of Peggy’s murder, Taylor had been living in Edgewater, Colorado with his family, where he worked in an electrical repair shop. He didn’t have a link to the camp or Peggy so he may have happened upon the group of Girl Scouts by chance.
Peggy Beck’s murder is now 57 years old and police have identified her killer but the case is about to go cold once more. Now, it’s up to web sleuths and armchair detectives to find him. There is a recent reward of $2,000.
Anyone who has information on James Raymond Taylor should contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 303–271–5612 or call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720–913-STOP or visit metrodenvercrimestoppers.com.