Erika Antoinette Hill, a 15-year-old American girl, was m*rdered in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, in February 2007. Her body, which was found damaged, was discovered in Gary, Indiana on February 26. However, her identity remained unknown until 2015. Taylin Hill, her adoptive mother, faced charges of reckless hom*cide following Erika’s identification. Eventually, Taylin pleaded guilty to reduced charges and received a 20-year prison sentence.

Background of Erika Antoinette Hill

Erika Hill, born in 1992, resided in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, with her adoptive mother, Taylin Hill, also known as “Minnie” and “Marie.” Taylin Hill was a cousin of Erika’s biological mother, who struggled with substance abuse and relinquished custody of Erika. Sadly, Erika’s biological mother passed away in 2009. Erika endured frequent abuse from her adoptive mother, who had a history of mistreating the children under her care, including Erika. These abuses occurred nearly every day over several years. Authorities had previously investigated allegations of abuse against Taylin Hill between 2000 and 2005. However, the investigations ceased after authorities failed to reach Taylin.


After enduring prolonged abuse and starvation, Erika tragically passed away in February 2007. Taylin reportedly contacted her sister and daughter while they were at work, asking them to come home. Upon their arrival, Taylin showed them Erika’s lifeless body in the bathroom. The following day, Taylin pressured them and other household members into moving the body to the basement and storing it in a freezer. Erika had been subjected to beatings and suffocation with a cloth, which was later discovered covering her mouth. Additionally, she had been st*bbed and beaten, with some of her teeth intentionally broken to impede identification. Taylin also changed Erika into inexpensive clothing.

Subsequently, the Hill family transported the body to Chicago for disposal. There, Taylin burned the body beneath an overpass. However, due to Taylin’s apprehension of potential discovery, they returned to relocate the body, ultimately driving it to Gary, Indiana. Many of the children under Taylin’s care refrained from speaking out due to fears of reprisal, while one child denied Taylin’s alleged abuse.

When questioned about Erika’s whereabouts following her disappearance, Taylin reportedly falsely claimed that Erika had returned to her hometown of Joliet, Illinois, where she had previously been under the care of her great aunt, who passed away in 2001.

Discovery of remians

On February 26, 2007, two men notified the police after observing what appeared to be charred legs at the entrance of an unoccupied building in Gary. The victim likely passed away one day before the discovery. After d*ath, her body had been set on fire, but it seemed she hadn’t been burned at the location where she was found.

The victim was of petite stature, measuring between 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m) and 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) tall, and weighing 102 pounds (46 kg). Despite estimations suggesting she was between sixteen and twenty-five years old, the date of her d*ath was inaccurately placed at twenty-four hours earlier. Examination revealed over 170 distinct scars on her face and various other body parts, indicating they may have been inflicted at different times due to the different stages of healing. Her hair had been styled into cornrows. Due to the body’s condition, details such as eye color and clothing (except for pink underwear) could not be determined.

The body’s state rendered visual identification impossible. In response, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children produced three artistic representations of the victim, one shortly after her discovery and two more, depicting a frontal and profile view, in 2014.

Investigation and trial

Erika’s remains were positively identified in 2015, following a pivotal revelation from Taylin Hill’s daughter. On August 7, 2015, Taylin’s daughter contacted authorities in Gary, Indiana, asserting that she believed she knew the identity of the previously unidentified victim. After conducting an internet search for bodies matching Erika’s description, she recognized the reconstruction created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as the closest match. Motivated by a therapy session and a desire to break the cycle of abuse, she decided to come forward with this information.

Taylin was subsequently arrested on September 14, 2015, and charged with first-degree reckless hom*cide, along with six additional counts of child abuse. During her detention pending trial, Taylin was placed on suicide watch, and her bond was set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing occurred on September 22.

Before her arrest, Taylin had worked as a special education aide in schools from 1998 to 2004, losing her position in 2006 after failing to return from a leave of absence. She briefly returned as a substitute aide in 2013 but was placed on leave by the school district upon being charged with Erika’s d*ath. Despite her arrest surprising many members of the community, who viewed her as kind and not abusive towards children in public, Taylin’s family claimed they had long been aware of underlying issues with her character.

In July 2016, Taylin pleaded guilty to three reduced charges, including child neglect and abuse. On November 7, 2016, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in causing Erika’s d*ath.

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