At first, the death of six-year-old Taylor Syring seemed like just another example of a tragedy that is all too common on Texas beaches: a young child gets a little too far out in the surf, a parent gets distracted and the child drowns.
But almost right from the start, police in Corpus Christi were suspicious of Laura Day, Taylor's 47-year-old stepmom and the sole witness to the incident near Bob Hall Pier last Friday.
At the hospital where the child's sand-streaked body was pronounced lifeless, Day told cops that she had allowed Taylor to take off his life jacket in gentle, shallow surf, and then, after she laid out to catch some sun, suddenly, the child disappeared, only to resurface floating face-down.
Day also told police that instead of calling 911, she grabbed Taylor, carried him to her car and drove him to a hospital 12 miles away. She told police that she believed that it would have taken paramedics too long to arrive, but Google Maps shows a Corpus Christi fire station less than three miles from Bob Hall Pier. She told police that while she is a diver and knows CPR, she admitted not administering CPR to Taylor Syring.
"She did nothing to help my child," said Kelly Syring, Taylor's mom. "I think she let my child die."
Evidently Corpus cops think there is at least some merit to that way of thinking, because Day was charged with child endangerment that same day. And now they are investigating Day further and finding some very dark and troubling secrets buried in her past.
According to The Baltimore Sun, in 1982, when Day was 17, living in Orange County, California, and known by her maiden name of Laura Lee Feist, she shot and killed her boyfriend before turning the gun on herself. News accounts at the time said that her motive was to see to it that they would be buried together.
She was still carrying a bullet in her shoulder from that incident 11 years later, and by that time, she had also served six years of a 17-year sentence for her second-degree murder conviction.
By the early 1990s, she had put the Golden State in her rearview, and found her way to Baltimore. Thanks to a psychology degree she earned in prison, she found a job as a counselor in a suburban hospital. She reportedly found that position overly stressful and quit.
Soon after that, she was dancing in a nightclub in South Baltimore, and she got married twice. Unfortunately she did not get a divorce between those two marriages, and in 1993 Laura Lee Marsden/Bush was convicted of bigamy and sentenced to six months probation and ordered into counseling. (Police believed she was married to a third man at the same time, though it was not proven in court.)
Two years after that, she got nabbed for torching her brand-new Mitsubishi and attempting to collect the insurance money. At the time of her arrest, police also found in her possession a $3,000 engagement ring and some treasured Dallas Cowboys commemorative plaques, all stolen from her neighbors. Again the judge was lenient, suspending all but six months of her five-year burglary term and two-year malicious burning term.