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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- More than a decade ago, Cindy Reyst sat in the Anamosa State Prison to meet with a convicted killer.
Reyst said she needed to go so that she could allow herself to forgive the man who killed her brother, Waterloo police officer Michael Hoing and his partner, officer Wayne Rice, in 1981. That man, James Michael Taylor, initially resisted the meeting before he had a change of heart and discovered he wanted to ask for her forgiveness, Reyst said.
"He actually pulled out a little poem and said, 'I read this for your family every night,'" Reyst said Wednesday. "It said, 'Let go and let God.'"
The Iowa Department of Corrections announced Wednesday that Taylor, 60, died Tuesday at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from natural causes due to complications from an aortic aneurysm. Taylor was serving two life sentences for the deaths of Hoing and Rice.
Reyst said she has "mixed feelings" about Taylor's death. While he's gone, the pain of her brother's death lives on.
"His prison term is over," she said. "Ours continues until the day we die. We are sentenced to live imprisonment ourselves."
Waterloo police Capt. Tim Pillack said Hoing and Rice responded to a loud party call the night of July 12, 1981. The officers returned to the residence a second time and were attacked. Taylor grabbed Rice's gun and shot the two officers.
Reyst said when she met with Taylor in 2003, he told her what happened that night. When the officers came to the residence a second time, a man hit Rice over the head with a chair, knocking him out. Taylor was then able to get Rice's gun and use it to shoot Hoing two or three times. Taylor then shot Rice "point blank," Reyst said. Hoing died shortly after midnight on July 13.
Pillack said Taylor fled and a manhunt was launched. He left Waterloo in a car that was found abandoned in LaPorte City, Pillack said. He was apprehended after police got a tip he was hiding in an abandoned house.
"We found him in a bean field," Pillack said. "We caught him on Friday, July 17."
Dave Hoing, Michael Hoing's brother, said he didn't know how to feel about Taylor's death.
"I don't hate the guy, I gave up on that a long time ago," said Hoing, who still lives in Waterloo. "I can't say I'm going to miss him, either. I don't know what to feel about it."
Hoing said Taylor reached out to him after Reyst went to see him in prison and asked to meet with him. Hoing turned down the request.
"As I told him in the letter, I'm really just better off if I don't think about it," Hoing said. "I told him I didn't hate him. I just didn't want to think about him."
Like his sister, Dave Hoing said he's still not sure how to feel about Taylor's death.
"I don't know what to think about it," he said. "I'm not relieved. I'm not sad."