A Teen Talks About Former Foster Dad, Charged With Murder

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Cocke County (WVLT) -- Several families have come forward since Jordan Kaleb Shelton’s death and Ken Taylor's arrest, claiming Taylor abused their children, while under his foster care.

According to a mother and her teenage son who in Taylor’s care, the state could have prevented Jordan's death, had investigators taken their claims more seriously.

Ken Taylor was a foster-fathered for troubled boys, as in trouble with the law.

His goal was to instill discipline, but according to Kyle Perdue, 17 and his mother Deborah Hurley, Taylor’s form of discipline included getting physical.

“I really thought he was a pretty cool guy, I really did, we hung out and we worked out together,” said Kyle, who was in Ken Taylor’s care for eight months.

The teen says he can't remember what he might have said or done to rile up his then foster father a couple of years ago, but he claims it was enough.

“He grabbed me by the throat and hurled, whatever you want to say, threw me up the stairs,” said Kyle. “Next thing you know, I'm sitting on my side on the stairs.”

“Kyle's father was livid and ready to go over there and do something, but he didn't,” said Hurley. “I didn't because I was intimidated.”

Kyle's mother said she reported the incident to the foster care contractor, Omni Visions, immediately, but state investigators say privacy laws prevent them from confirming whether there was a complaint, let alone an investigation.

“If we think that for some reason a foster home wouldn't be safe and we come across information that we're able to verify, we would certainly take action to make sure that children are
safe,” said Rob Johnson from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

In other words, the Department of Children's Services admits that had an investigation turned up trouble with Kyle Perdue two years ago, Ken Taylor couldn't have taken in Jordan, the foster child he's accused of choking to death.

“He had that look when he was yelling at you that he just wanted to grab and hurt you, but he never would,” Kyle said.

Kyle also said he couldn’t imagine Ken Taylor intending to injure or kill any of his foster children.

Now he's back with his Mom and hopes to pass his GED and get on with his life.

But his mother believes, it's time to take legal action.

“Somewhere, somebody's not doing their job,” Hurley said, “or it wouldn't have come to this child dying.”

Children's services says its investigators are going over every aspect of Ken Taylor’s tenure as a foster parent, including how a private contractor, Omni Visions, might have handled any claims or complaints.

Ken Taylor did pass a criminal background check even though it showed convictions for drug and alcohol offenses.
Had those convictions come five years ago, the state would never have let him become a foster parent.

But those convictions came ten years ago, putting him in the clear.


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  • by wendy Location: knoxville.tn on Aug 18, 2008 at 07:31 PM
    Iwould just like to say how much i am sorry for what had happen to him.i grew up in foaster care all my life.i know there are alot of foaster parents that shouldnt be able to have kids belive me i know dhs dont belive the children half the time so of course the children are going to at up.i stayed in a foaster home were he did as well.i just wanted to really say that dhs should do alot more investions but they dont they dont care
  • by angel Location: knoxville,tn on Dec 20, 2007 at 07:42 AM
    13 years ago my children were taken from me because of an accident and because at the time a baby had just been killed by its mothers boyfriend after DHS had repeatedly put the child back in the home.Next thing you knew the child is dead.My youngest had just started rolling over and rolled off the couch whild I was getting ready for work.Of course someone was in the room with him but he was asleep and my husband was vaccuming.When he rolled off it cracked his arm.Immediatly Dhs took the children ,4,from me and my husband.They were placed in foster homes.To this day the family the 2 middle boys were with and I remain friends.The family the oldest and the youngest were with were horrble.My baby,9 months old,came to the first visit with a spoiled rotten bottle of milk,and my oldest,who had beautiful hair ,came with ALL OF IT SHAVED OFF!!In torn ratty clothes,with stitches in his head.He had "fell on bricks".I went off, they were removed,and the foster parents are no longer foster parents!
  • by theadvocate06 Location: knox, tn on Dec 3, 2007 at 11:45 PM
    I really hope citizens arent going to let this pass, this is not the first time this has happened. Wasn't there a neighbor who called CPS 5 times? And if this boys problems were only truancy and smoking, why was he in foster care? For all the parents who have had to deal with this agency, you now have your chance to speak up about the injunstices, violations, and how you were treated. To the Mother of the young man, I am very sorry you lost your son, I promise you, this will not be swept under the rug.

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