Friends remember Platte City man killed in June shooting

Taylor Hawkins, 31, was <a class=shot and killed on the evening of June 28 in a remote part of Platte County.” title=”Taylor Hawkins, 31, was shot and killed on the evening of June 28 in a remote part of Platte County.” loading=”lazy”/>

Taylor Hawkins, 31, was shot and killed on the evening of June 28 in a remote part of Platte County.


Recently, at the end of June, Taylor Hawkins was on the phone with one of his closest friends, reminding him that he would keep the promise he had made.

He planned to start teaching his children to play music. It was a compromise they agreed to shortly after she gave him her electric guitar, his longtime friend Sarah Muntean recalled during an interview with The Star on Wednesday.

“I have three boys, and my five- and three-year-olds play guitar, and we also have drums. And Taylor would come and they would play together,” said Muntean, 32, of Kansas City.

“And the day he called, he said, ‘Just to let you know, I haven’t forgotten our deal. I’m ready to start teaching the boys to play.

It was a promise Hawkins never had the chance to keep. A few days later, while browsing Facebook, Muntean said she was shocked and heartbroken to read a brief post from Hawkins’ mother saying he had been murdered the night before.

Hawkins, 31, was shot and killed on the evening of June 28 in a remote part of Platte County. As of Wednesday, the homicide was still under investigation by the Platte County Sheriff’s Office and two people associated with Hawkins were wanted for questioning.

Following Hawkins’ death, close friends said they were still coming to terms with the new reality. They described him as a caring, thoughtful, bright, funny, sociable, and talented young man who had many friends in Platte City, where he spent much of his life and resided with his mother.

Music was a big part of Taylor Hawkins’ life. He enjoyed going to concerts and played at a few small venues himself, friends said. Submitted

“Everyone is really angry. Really crazy,” said Gabby Laughlin, who met Hawkins in 7th grade and whose husband and brother-in-law were also close friends. “It was insane and so stupid.”

Reached briefly by phone, Celeste Hawkins declined to speak at length, saying she was not emotionally ready to discuss her son’s death. She said her absence has been hard on her and her family.

“The funeral director said I made the right choice in getting the bigger church,” Celeste Hawkins said. “Because this one devastated the community.”

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Taylor Hawkins, left, is pictured next to her mother Celeste Hawkins for a Christmas portrait in the early 1990s. The young Hawkins, now 31, from Platte City, was shot and killed on June 28 in the rural Platte County. Submitted

Filming in rural Platte County

Shortly before 8 p.m. on June 28, deputies from the Platte County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a reported shooting in the 2800 block of Oberdiek Lane, a rural stretch surrounded by farmland.

Deputies found Taylor Hawkins dead of gunshot wounds in the yard of a residence when they arrived. The events leading up to the shooting remain unknown.

The next morning, the sheriff’s office released photographs and descriptions of two persons of interest: McKayla C. Archambeau, 22, and Cordero T. Cervantes, 32.

Police have released little about Archambeau and Cervantes, other than to say they are considered armed and dangerous.

In addition to releasing the footage to the public, Platte County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. Erik Holland said other law enforcement agencies have been notified of the desire to locate Archambeau and Cervantes. . He said Wednesday that finding and interviewing them was one of detectives’ highest priorities in moving the case forward.

“Any information the public may have regarding their whereabouts is vital information for us,” Holland said.

Police were asking anyone with information about the murder or the location of the persons of interest to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477) or the Platte County Sheriff’s Office at 816 -858-3521.

Hawkins’ friends said they knew little about Cervantes and Archambeau, but that Hawkins had known both. Cervantes attended the same schools and was close in age to Hawkins, they recalled, and Archambeau may have stayed with Hawkins for a brief period.

“We used to hang out with (Cervantes), but not anymore. He moved away, and comes back in worse shape. And I don’t know the McKayla girl at all,” said Laughlin, 31, of Platte City, adding, “There are still no details on that. I think they keep it pretty quiet. Plus, it’s a small town so rumors travel pretty fast.

“No one expected this”

Friends say the murder came as Hawkins was beginning to get his life back on track after being derailed by COVID-19. He had returned to work as a waiter after being laid off during the pandemic and was excited to start playing music with a Metallica tribute band in his spare time, his friend Muntean said.

She said the situation was difficult for Hawkins and that he had faced bouts of depression during this time.

“The last month has been better than it has been for about two years,” Muntean said. “It looked like he was going back to that good place, and he made a lot of phone calls to people before he died. Everyone said he just looked happier and better.

Nobody expected it, and I think it really touched people,” she added.

Friends said Hawkins formed lasting relationships dating back to his days as a student at Platte City schools. He wore a skater-style haircut at Platte City High, they recalled, and spent his days learning to play drums and guitar, idolizing bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Primus and Tool.

He is also remembered for helping bring friends together. Laughlin, who saw Hawkins standing among the groomsmen at her 2015 wedding, said he frequently visited her house to jam to the drums, often taking requests for songs — even obscure ones, like the song theme from the cartoon “Power Puff Girls”.

From left: Chas Laughlin, Beau Laughlin, Gabby (Odegard) Laughlin, Erik Odegard, Taylor Hawkins and Christopher Dennis pose for a wedding photo on September 26, 2015 in Platte City. Hawkins, 31, was fatally shot in rural Platte County on June 28. Sheriff’s deputies were looking for two people interested in the murder. Submitted

“He just played it by ear. I was amazed – like, he had never practiced it before, but he could listen to a song and play along to it,” Laughlin said.

Music remained a big part of his life throughout. He enjoyed going to concerts and played at a few small venues himself, friends said. He was known to wear his favorite band’s t-shirts to rallies – or tie-dye ones.

Hawkins’ funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday. Afterwards, the loved ones plan to come together for a family celebration of life that will include a jam session. Everyone plans to wear their favorite band’s t-shirt in honor of Hawkins, Laughlin said.

“I think Taylor would have really liked that,” Laughlin said. “He was always making fun of me because I wore the same Guns & Roses t-shirt all the time. So I bought a new one today.

Taylor Hawkins, left, was shot and killed on the evening of June 28 in a remote part of Platte County. Submitted

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Bill Lukitsch covers breaking news for The Star. Prior to joining The Star, he covered politics and local government for the Quad-City Times.

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