By 1979, using the name Freda, she was known as a trans woman, and was seen leaving a bar in nearby Gaffney with Billy Posey who was found shot dead the next morning in a motel room. A taxi-driver told police that he had taken Turner to Spartanburg, and that Turner had flashed a gun and confessed the killing. It took a few days to sign an arrest warrant, by which time Turner had disappeared.
Turner moved to Atlanta and Florida, and then in 1985, as Valerie Taylor, to Glendale, Los Angeles. She sometimes worked as a photographer’s model. Valerie advertized in the personals and met Dave Allen (1944 – 1999) who did visual effects in and directed movies. She was his date to the Oscars in 1986 when he was nominated for Best Special Effects in Young Sherlock Holmes, 1985. They lived together for some years, their relationship occasionally becoming violent.
In 1990 Dave Allen started to also date divorced mother of two, Donita Woodruff.
In 1991 Dave paid for Valerie’s legal name change and surgery with Dr Biber. Also in 1991 Valerie had an accident while learning to drive, and left the scene of the accident. She was sentenced to three years probation and community service.
|Dave and Donita
In 1996, she informed the Burbank police that Taylor was a fugitive. Taylor denied being Freddie Turner, but her fingerprints were the same as those taken from Freddie in Atlanta. She was extradited to South Carolina. In 1997, she pled self-defense and the evidence being mainly lost and witnesses having died since, she was sentenced to 15 years, suspended to three.
Valerie served two years in prison at the Leath Correctional Institute for women, before returning to Los Angeles and Dave Allen.
Dave died of cancer in 1999 and it is rumored that he left most of his money to Valerie. In 2002, Valerie was convicted of assault on a boyfriend, and put on probation.
Donita Woodruff published her account as a true crime book in 2005.
*Not the English actress, nor the lesbian novelist, not the shark and underwater expert.
- Jaxon Van Derbeken and Steve Getzug. “Puzzles Surface In 1979 Slaying : Sex Change One Of Many Twists In Case”. Daily News. May 20, 1996. Online at: www.thefreelibrary.com/PUZZLES+SURFACE+IN+1979+SLAYING+%3A+SEX+CHANGE+ONE+OF+MANY+TWISTS+IN...-a083932605.
- Ann W. O’Neill. “Fingerprints Implicate Transsexual in Killing”. Los Angeles Times. May 29, 1996. http://articles.latimes.com/1996-05-29/local/me-9522_1_valerie-taylor.
- Donita Woodruff. Deadly Masquerade: A True Story of Illicit Passion, Buried Secrets, and Murder. Far Hills, N.J.: New Horizon Press, 2005. New York: St Martin’s Paperbacks 2007.
The major source on Valerie Taylor is Woodruff’s book. However Woodruff is very much a hostile witness. Once Woodruff realizes that Taylor had been a transsexual, she constantly refers to her as ‘Freddie Turner’ and ‘he’ despite Valerie having completed both surgery and legal name change.
Woodruff comes across as very transphobic. In her opinion a trans woman is a man for life, Dave must be gay because he had an affair with Valerie, and she is at a serious risk of Aids because of Dave. Whenever she meets persons who had taken Valerie as herself, Woodruff writes it that they had been ‘fooled’. Her book could be a lot more plausible if she had consulted a trans person for advice.
She is constantly being scandalized by the world as it is. She is scandalized that the South Carolina justice system uses plea bargaining and that the justice system is imperfect.
Donita also comes across as an unreliable narrator. In addition to detailed accounts of dialogue which she surely could not remember that precisely, several of the reviewers on Amazon find complete incidents unlikely at best.
I was amazed that Donita could go to city hall and get Valerie’s name change papers. Are there no privacy provisions? This is explicitly forbidden in the UK’s Gender Recognition Act, but that is another country.
In Donita’s account, Valerie is a psychopathic killer and violent, physically and emotionally, with all who know her. In the news articles sourced above, the murder comes across as a self-defence after a night gone wrong. It is an unfortunate fact that some people do go crazy when with a transsexual. As stated, Donita spoils her case by being transphobic.
Valerie Taylor is not mentioned among the inmates on the Wikipedia page for Leath Correctional Institute.