Dave Hoing is a gifted author and a treasured friend. We first met in a fiction workshop in 1985, taught by Nancy Price Thompson, author of “Sleeping With the Enemy” (made into a movie starring Julia Roberts). Dave has published countless science fiction and fantasy stories and co-authored novels with Roger Hileman, his buddy since high school. Something deeper than the urge to write made me feel connected to Dave from the day we met. There’s something about having lost a sibling at an early age that changes a person. We recognize each other long before we know of the loss we have in common.
Dave has written two short stories based on the murder of my own sister, one of the “Waverly Three” (see other blog posts I’ve written on this). I haven’t seen any incarnations of his brother Mike in his fiction, but the dark undercurrent, the theme of murder, is there.
Michael Hoing and his partner, officer Wayne Rice, were killed in 1981 when called to the home of a loud party. At the door, James Michael “T-Bone” Taylor killed both officers. Years later, Cindy (Hoing) Reyst visited Taylor in prison to forgive the man who killed her brother. (She’s a better woman than I am.) At age 52, Taylor would tell younger inmates not to make the same mistakes he did once they are released, according to Dave, who received a letter from Taylor. Dave told Waterloo Courier staff writer Jeff Reinitz:
He wanted to see me, and I had sent him a letter finally saying that I wasn’t going to go see him. “If you turned your life around, I’m glad you did that, but I’m not ready to come see you … What peace of mind I have achieved comes from acceptance of the facts, not forgiveness. So it doesn’t really matter if I forgive you or not.”
IOWA CITY, Iowa — More than a decade ago, Cindy Reyst sat in the Anamosa State Prison to meet with a convicted killer.
Reyst said she needed to go so that she could allow herself to forgive the man who killed her brother, Waterloo police officer Michael Hoing and his partner, officer Wayne Rice, in 1981. That man, James Michael Taylor, initially resisted the meeting before he had a change of heart and discovered he wanted to ask for her forgiveness, Reyst said.
“He actually pulled out a little poem and said, ‘I read this for your family every night,'” Reyst said Wednesday. “It said, ‘Let go and let God.'”
The Iowa Department of Corrections announced Wednesday that Taylor, 60, died Tuesday at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from natural causes due to complications from an aortic aneurysm. Taylor was serving two life sentences for the deaths of Hoing and Rice.
Reyst said she has “mixed feelings” about Taylor’s death. While he’s gone, the pain of her brother’s death lives on.
“His prison term is over,” she said. “Ours continues until the day we die. We are sentenced to live imprisonment ourselves.”
Waterloo police Capt. Tim Pillack said Hoing and Rice responded to a loud party call the night of July 12, 1981. The officers returned to the residence a second time and were attacked. Taylor grabbed Rice’s gun and shot the two officers.
Reyst said when she met with Taylor in 2003, he told her what happened that night. When the officers came to the residence a second time, a man hit Rice over the head with a chair, knocking him out. Taylor was then able to get Rice’s gun and use it to shoot Hoing two or three times. Taylor then shot Rice “point blank,” Reyst said. Hoing died shortly after midnight on July 13.
Pillack said Taylor fled and a manhunt was launched. He left Waterloo in a car that was found abandoned in LaPorte City, Pillack said. He was apprehended after police got a tip he was hiding in an abandoned house.
“We found him in a bean field,” Pillack said. “We caught him on Friday, July 17.”
Dave Hoing, Michael Hoing’s brother, said he didn’t know how to feel about Taylor’s death.
“I don’t hate the guy, I gave up on that a long time ago,” said Hoing, who still lives in Waterloo. “I can’t say I’m going to miss him, either. I don’t know what to feel about it.”
Hoing said Taylor reached out to him after Reyst went to see him in prison and asked to meet with him. Hoing turned down the request.
“As I told him in the letter, I’m really just better off if I don’t think about it,” Hoing said. “I told him I didn’t hate him. I just didn’t want to think about him.”
Like his sister, Dave Hoing said he’s still not sure how to feel about Taylor’s death.
“I don’t know what to think about it,” he said. “I’m not relieved. I’m not sad.”
July 14, 2006 Dave Hoing holds a picture of this brother, Police Officer Michael Hoing, who was killed on duty (in 1981) 25 years ago. BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Photo Editor
WATERLOO – It was a meeting that was more than two painful decades in the making and one year in planning.
And it lasted about an hour.
Behind the locked gates of the Anamosa State Penitentiary, Cindy Reyst faced the man who gunned down her police officer brother, Michael Hoing, and his partner, Wayne Rice, 25 years ago this week.
The slayings of Hoing, 28, and Rice, 27 – who were shot in the early morning hours of July 13, 1981 – sent many lives into a tailspin.
Now Reyst’s personal search for justice and understanding dropped her across the table from James Michael “T-Bone” Taylor, who is serving two life sentences in the deaths of the Waterloo officers.
Gone was the swagger Taylor once had, Reyst said. Gone was the defiance he once showed.
“He looked like a broken down man at this point,” said Reyst, who now lives in Michigan. “He was probably more nervous about the meeting than I was.”
Chaperoned by a state victim’s advocate and Taylor’s counselor, the killer apologized.
Taylor admitted his actions and disclosed some additional details from about the tragic night now seared into the souls of family and fellow officers.
“He took the blame. He was crying when he first walked into the room,” Reyst said.
Reyst told him she forgave him.
Taylor out pulled a folded piece of paper and read the poem “Let go and let God. He promised her he would try to make a difference in prison.
Reyst said the meeting was like finally closing a wound.
“There’s never been closure. But can you heal from it? Yeah,” she said.
The meeting between Reyst and Taylor, which took place in May 2003 during National Peace Officers Memorial Week, took effort.
About a year earlier, Reyst finally decided she wanted to meet the man who killed her brother, and her husband, a retired Detroit cop, called prison officials to set something up.
“I wanted to know what really happened that night,” she said.
Taylor had to agree to the visit, and at first he didn’t. He wanted to see if he could get something out of it, Reyst said.
But victim’s assistance workers continued to argue for Reyst’s request, and Taylor finally took a victim’s impact class and consented to the visit.
The meeting was the subject of a 2004 television program for channel France 2 in Europe. The documentary was about victim’s rights programs and featured another apology by an Iowa prisoner in a separate crime.
The deaths of Michael Hoing and Rice shattered many lives, and not everyone thinks Taylor is worthy of forgiveness.
“I will never forgive him, but I’ve also chosen not to allow him to steal any more of my life and happiness by wasting time and energy on hating him,” said Barb Possehl, who was 11 when her brother, Rice, was taken from her.
“He is nothing to me, and I don’t believe he deserves one minute of publicity or people’s sympathy,” Possehl said.
Possehl’s family hasn’t had any contact from Taylor, nor do they desire to, she said. After all, this is the man who once bragged about being a cop killer, she said.
Instead, Possehl prefers to remember her brother not for how he died but for how he lived.
She wants people to know about the elderly couple Rice helped one night and then returned to check on them a number of times in the following days.
“Or about the time he found a little boy wandering – too small to tell Wayne where home was,” Possehl said. “Wayne put him in the squad car and drove him around until he thought he saw some recognition in the child. He managed to find home and returned the boy safely.”
Taylor, now 52, has been talking to younger inmates, telling them not to make the same mistakes he did once they are released, said Michael Hoing’s younger brother, Dave Hoing of Waterloo, who received a letter from Taylor.
“He wanted to see me, and I had sent him a letter finally saying that I wasn’t going to go see him,” Dave Hoing said. “If you turned your life around, I’m glad you did that, but I’m not ready to come see you.”
The 1981 slayings sent Dave Hoing into a deep depression, and he worried a visit with Taylor would send him back.
Dave Hoing’s letter to Taylor said forgiveness wasn’t a particularly meaningful concept to him.
“What peace of mind I have achieved comes from acceptance of the facts, not forgiveness. So it doesn’t really matter if I forgive you or not,” Dave Hoing responded.
Taylor talked about some of the details of the killings that hadn’t come out during his murder trial.
Police said Michael Hoing and Rice were sent to a home on Franklin Street to address a loud music complaint. The told the partygoers to keep it quiet and were headed back to their squad car when something drew them back, and a fight broke out on the porch with people from the house.
In the melee, Taylor grabbed Rice’s handgun.
“They always said Rice was shot first, and my brother my second. And that’s not what happened,” Dave Hoing said.
Nor was there a fight. The attackers simply pounced on the two officers as soon as Rice set foot on the porch.
“They weren’t expecting any trouble at all. They weren’t prepared,” Reyst said.
Rice was knocked out with a chair, and some of the assailants pinned Hoing’s arms, according to the version Taylor gave Reyst and Dave Hoing.
“Some guys were holding my brother up, and T-Bone walked up to them. My brother said ‘don’t do it man, I have a family,’ and he shot him,” Dave Hoing said Taylor told him.
Rice was unconscious, Dave Hoing was told, and Taylor started to run.
“They said ‘no get the other one.’ So they went back and shot Rice while he was unconscious,” Dave Hoing said.
“I believe him because his version is even worse than what was reported,” he said.
Taylor fled and remained at large for a number of days.
Black Hawk County sheriff’s deputy William Mullikin died in car crash while responding to a report of gunshots in a rural area where Taylor was believed to be hiding. Taylor was captured in a cornfield near La Porte City while Mullikin’s funeral was under way.
“There was some elation when they found him – some relief – because he was still out there and a threat to law enforcement and community in general,” said Bruce Arends, now a captain with the Waterloo Police Department.
Joseph Phams, who swung the chair and struck Rice, was also convicted of murder. His brother, Johnny Phams, who had wrestled with Hoing, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter under an agreement that he testify at trial.
Contact Jeff Reinitz at (319) 291-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.