Two years ago, Taylor Rene Parker, 29, committed the gruesome murder as part of an elaborate ruse to keep her boyfriend from leaving her. In the months leading up to the crime, Parker, who had already had a hysterectomy and therefore could not bear children, went to great lengths to convince everyone around her that she was pregnant. She sent her boyfriend fake ultrasound images, wore pregnancy disguises, and even threw herself a gender reveal party. She had also watched several videos about delivering a preterm baby at 35 weeks.
Then on October 9, 2020, Parker told her unidentified boyfriend that she was going to a hospital in Idabel, Oklahoma, located just north of the Texas border, to preregister to induce labor. That same day, the body of 21-year-old Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock was discovered in her home in New Boston, Texas. Her skull had been crushed by hammer, and she had been stabbed over 100 times. At the time of her death, Simmons-Hancock had also been 34-weeks pregnant, but her unborn daughter had been cut from her womb with a scalpel and taken.
When police pulled Parker over shortly thereafter, they discovered Simmons-Hancock's baby in Parker's lap. "[T]he umbilical cord was connected to the infant, which appeared to be coming out of the female's pants, as if she gave birth to the child," an affidavit said.
Parker and the child were taken to the Idabel hospital where medical teams determined that Parker had not given birth after all. Parker then admitted that she and Simmons-Hancock had gotten into a "physical altercation" and that she had abducted Simmons-Hancock's unborn child.
Last month, a jury of six men and six women found Parker guilty of capital murder for the brutal crime. Then on Wednesday, the same jury was charged with determining whether Parker would receive the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.
It took the jury less than two hours to agree upon the death penalty.
In various victim statements, members of Simmons' family expressed agonizing grief for Simmons-Hancock and Braxlynn Sage as well as gratitude that justice had been served.
"My only biological sister. You need to understand what you took from me and my family," Emily Simmons told Parker. "No more celebrating her birthday. I was barely 19 when I got the call my sister was gone."
Jessica Brooks, Simmons-Hancock's mother, called Parker an "evil piece of flesh demon."
"I'm overwhelmed with happiness it's over," Emily Simmons later admitted, "because [Parker] has been such a burden in our life for so long now that I haven't been able to think about my sister without thinking about her."
Parker's family did not attend the sentencing hearing.
Parker's defense team expressed disappointment that she had been given the death penalty, though her sentence will automatically be appealed. She is expected to be moved to the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, where the state houses female death row inmates, per the New York Post.
Parker is now one of just seven female inmates on death row in Texas.