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Woman found strangled; Boyfriend charged with murder.

Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER - A 23-year-old woman authorities believe was three months pregnant was allegedly strangled by her boyfriend in their Elm Street apartment Friday night and left there until police discovered her body Sunday.

Taylor Hurst, 24, of 90 Elm St., Apt. 1, was charged with murder and violation of the open container law yesterday in Central District Court. The Louisiana-born man is accused of strangling Katherine MacDougall about 7 p.m. Friday. Police said Ms. MacDougall might have been Mr. Hurst's fiancee.

Police said Mr. Hurst allegedly stayed in the apartment for a couple of days after the death, and admitted to committing the crime.

"Hurst gave a detailed statement, indicating that he killed the victim by manual strangulation on Friday," according to the police report by Detective Sgt. John W. Towns.

Ms. MacDougall's mother called police to check on her well-being Sunday, police said. The mother called the apartment, but no one answered. The mailbox on the door had the last names of Mr. Hurst and Ms. MacDougall on it.

"Her mother called out of concern," police spokesman Sgt. Kerry F. Hazelhurst said. "When officers got there, the place was in darkness - all locked up."

Detectives learned that the couple had been recently engaged, according to Detective Capt. Edward J. McGinn Jr. Police understand that the child was Mr. Hurst's, he added.

Authorities are still investigating the slaying.

"We don't know exactly what the motive was," Capt. McGinn said.

When police went to the home, no one responded. They then alerted patrols to be on the lookout for the young woman. A description of her car was also given.

Authorities went back to the apartment about 10 p.m. Sunday and entered the home, after finding someone who had a key.

"Once inside, police immediately became suspicious, and ultimately located the body of the 23-year-old woman within the apartment," police said.

Ms. MacDougall, who worked at Staples headquarters in Framingham, was pronounced dead by paramedics. She was found in the bathroom of the apartment, which was described as well-kept and decorated with several family pictures.

About the time police were entering the apartment, Officer Joseph P. Hearn saw a 2000 green Pontiac Grand Prix, described as the victim's car, near Washington Square.

Mr. Hurst was found inside drinking a Budweiser beer, according to court records. He was arrested for the open container violation, taken to the station and interviewed by police.

The woman's family told authorities that Ms. MacDougall was three months pregnant, but police did not have medical records to confirm it, Sgt. Hazelhurst said.

Mr. Hurst has not been charged with any crimes related to ending the pregnancy.

"The stance being taken right now is, we are not pursuing those charges," the sergeant said.

Capt. McGinn said it is the department's understanding that the fetus would not have been viable outside the uterus.

The exact cause of Ms. MacDougall's death has not been determined, Sgt. Hazelhurst said. An autopsy was scheduled yesterday at the office of the state medical examiner.

There were no records in court or of calls to police regarding any past domestic violence at the apartment the two shared.

"There has been no history of domestic abuse between either parties,"

Sgt. Hazelhurst said.

The couple moved into the first-floor apartment of the three-story building about two months ago, according to Joel Fisak, who lives with his wife in the apartment directly above.

He described them as quiet loners.

"We rarely saw them," he said, but added that there is little interaction among the tenants at 90 Elm St. "I've never seen the people on the third floor. I just found it strange that she was 23 and never had any friends over. Neither did he."

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Fisak encountered Mr. Hurst about 2 a.m. pacing back and forth outside the apartment building while a cab waited at the curb.

"He didn't do any of the things I would have done to get into my apartment like knock on the door or call out my wife's name," Mr. Fisak said. Finally Ms. MacDougall opened the door and said, "Where've you been?"

"My heart goes out to her parents," Mr. Fisak said. "Parents should never have to bury their children."

Mr. Hurst was held without bail in a quick arraignment yesterday. His case was continued to March 30. He wore a white sterile jumpsuit provided by police after they seized his clothing, which will be examined for evidence.

Mark Melady of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.

ART: PHOTO; MAP

CUTLINE: (PHOTO) Taylor Hurst is arraigned yesterday in the strangulation death of Katherine MacDougall. (MAP) Body found at 90 Elm St.

PHOTOG: (PHOTO) T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE (MAP) T&G Staff/DON LANDGREN JR.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 6, 2007
Words:800
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