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Gazette Premium Content 'Blood Relatives:' Murder is all in the family for Colorado Springs-area woman

By Garrison Wells Updated: April 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Dianna Taylor would describe herself as "knee high to a grasshopper."

When she worked for Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells in Florida as supervisor of forensic crime scene section, he called her "Little Bit."

At 4-foot-11-inches, she may be tiny.

Don't let it fool you. She is as big as they come.

Taylor, 59, will appear on the Investigation Discovery show "Blood Relatives" this month as its forensic criminologist on two homicides.

She was hired because of her expertise - a 34-year career in forensics and fire investigations.

"Her voice is as the expert on a couple of episodes," said Thomas Cutler, executive producer for "Blood Relatives."

The show premiered its third season Thursday night. It airs at 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

Taylor was used in two shows, according to the network here is the synopsis:

- "Home Sweet Homicide," which premieres April 24. The Santaguida family enjoys a healthy, natural lifestyle in their hippie haven. But when one family member is found brutally strangled, homicide detectives discover this peaceful image is all smoke and mirrors. Location: Evergreen

- "Duct Tape Divorce" premieres May 22. The DeWild family is as close as can be. But when one DeWild threatens to break that bond, they find the only way out of this family is murder. Location: Edgewater

Taylor talked about the Santaguida case.

According to the police report, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office responded to an adult female who was not breathing in the 30000 block of Hill Top Drive in Evergreen April 8, 2010.

The victim, Elizabeth Santaguida, was found by her sister in the family home.

The investigation found that she had suffered some type of trauma.

Her brother, Zachariah Thomas Santaguida, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Zachariah Santaguida was on medications for ADHD and a cocktail of other medications, Taylor said.

"When you're on a bunch of medications, some of them don't like each other," she said.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were initially close. But as time passed, a distance developed between them, Taylor said.

"He was declining rapidly," she said. "He became reclusive. He would come out long enough to eat something, then go back to his room. To me that was the questionable period with him."

The key to breaking the case, she said, was how the Jefferson County detectives handled the questioning.

"Had they not known how to approach this young man, they would have never gotten the confession out of him that they got. Those detectives knew exactly what to say to him," Taylor said. "I think it was the meds combined that gave him a personality that he was not used to. I honestly don't think he knew how to handle it."

The show was not an entirely new experience for Taylor, who is also the subject of a documentary filmed a few years ago and is being shopped around as a series.

"It was really kind of interesting for me and it was probably for them as well," Taylor said. "They got to ask me questions about forensics. People think a fingerprint is just a fingerprint. Well, no, it's not."

Taylor is the owner of Ignis Forensics.

She was a certified instructor for the State of Florida commission on criminal justice and has trained the FBI evidence recovery team and served as a leader of roundtable discussions at Forensic Frenzy in Washington, D.C.

Taylor has advanced training in arson/fire investigations, bomb evidence recovery, blood stain documentation, light energy sources, forensic photography and death investigations and is nationally certified in fire and explosion investigation and vehicle fire investigation.

She's investigated hundreds of murders in Florida, Mississippi and helped as an expert in several other states.

When it comes to CSI, she's the real thing. She lives in the area but she can't tell her exact location because two people she helped put behind bars are close to being released from prison.

During the show, Taylor said she was asked about DNA, how the case went, and about Zachariah.

"They asked me if he always had ADHD and I told them: 'Yes, since he was knee high to a grasshopper,'" she said.

She is working five cases now, including a DNA case, a fire and a Colorado Springs homicide.

"I'm not bored," she said.

The idea behind the series was to do a modern take on murder in the family. Murder among family members is nothing new, Cutler said.

"People have been killing blood relatives since the Bible," he said. "We were thinking: 'How can we put a modern spin on it?' Unfortunately, it happens a lot and we were able to tell those stories. It's always a whodunit and always a jaw-dropping case."

Taylor has received calls to do more shows, but her caseload has dominated her time.

But, she said, "It was fun. I liked talking about what I love to do. When your job gets to where it's not fun anymore, then it's time to change your career. I've not come to that point."

---

"Blood relatives"

Series description: From the outside, families can seem like harmonious units, pillars of the community, and loving homes. But in "Blood Relatives," the facades of these households are shed to reveal complex layers of jealousy, adultery, and vengeance that resulted in the unthinkable: a murder within a family

Shows with Dianna Taylor

Home Sweet Homicide premieres April 24. The Santaguida family enjoys a healthy, natural lifestyle in their hippie haven. But when one family member is found brutally strangled, homicide detectives discover this peaceful image is all smoke and mirrors. Location: Evergreen, Colorado

Duct Tape Divorce premieres May 22. The DeWild family is as close as can be. But when one DeWild threatens to break that bond, they find the only way out of this family is murder. Location: Edgewater, Colorado

Source: "Blood Relatives"

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