Stephen McDaniel, Lauren Giddings’ neighbor and student, strangled and dismembered her before dispersing her body parts over Macon, Georgia.
Lauren Giddings spent the summer after graduating from law school studying for the Georgia Bar Exam, which she considers to be the most important test she will ever take. Stephen McDaniel, her next-door neighbor and classmate, had different ideas. McDaniel murdered and dismembered Giddings, a 27-year-old man, on June 26, 2011.
Giddings had a sneaking suspicion that she was being watched. She’d even emailed her lover the night before she died, telling him she feared someone had tried to break into her house recently.
When McDaniel discovered Giddings’ body had been found while giving an on-camera interview to the local news about her disappearance, the murder made international headlines.
Investigators were able to link McDaniel to Giddings’ killing quickly, and just before his 2014 trial, he pleaded guilty to the crime. During the course of the investigation, however, authorities determined that Lauren Giddings had underestimated the accuracy of her unsettling suspicions.
Lauren Giddings, a recent law school graduate, was murdered in a gruesome manner.
Lauren Giddings was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, on April 18, 1984. In 2008, she relocated to Macon, Georgia to attend Mercer University’s law school. She stayed in Macon after graduating in 2011 to study for the Georgia Bar Exam.
Giddings informed her family and friends in mid-June that she would be relatively off the radar for the following three weeks in order to concentrate on her studies. According to WGXA News, Giddings’ sister, Kaitlyn Wheeler, got concerned on June 29 when she realized she hadn’t received a call or text from her brother in days.
Wheeler contacted Giddings’ friends, who stated that they had not heard from her either, prompting them to investigate. Giddings’ car was parked in her apartment’s parking lot, but when they knocked, she didn’t answer. Ashley Morehouse, a friend who knew where Giddings kept her spare key, unlocked the door and entered.
The flat had Giddings’ books, keys, and purse, but she was nowhere to be located.
Morehouse dialed 911, and officers came within minutes. They noted that there were no traces of forced entry, and no blood that would indicate a struggle.
The walls, floor, and bathtub lighted up when officers sprayed luminol in the bathroom. They weren’t looking into a missing person case anymore. A homicide had occurred here.
Lauren Giddings’ Death: A Perplexing Investigation
The crime scene was promptly cordoned off, and officers began checking the building’s perimeter. They were quickly confronted with a strong odor emanating from the trash cans.
“While we were standing there, the wind started to turn,” one of the cops on the case later told the Oxygen series In Ice Cold Blood. I immediately detected an odor that I was well acquainted with. We’ve all encountered unpleasant odors throughout our lives. One of the worst smells you’ll encounter is that of a body, particularly a decomposing body. It does, however, have a distinct odor.”
Lauren Giddings’ torso was wrapped in a plastic sheet inside the trash container.
The detective added, “They did not discover the head, legs, or arms in either of the trash cans.” “That was the first time I’d ever seen something like that.” Who could have perpetrated such a crime? Because only a monster could pull anything like that off. It was a complete disaster.”
Stephen McDaniel was giving an interview to a local news station at the time Giddings’ bones were discovered, posing as a worried friend who had no idea what had happened to Giddings. When he learnt the body had been discovered, his manner suddenly altered.
He asked, “Body?” “I believe I need to take a seat.”
Later, McDaniel agreed to let officers into his apartment as they scoured the building for clues. McDaniel possessed a master key for each residence in the complex, according to police.
When confronted, McDaniel admitted to breaking into two adjacent apartments and stealing one condom from each. Police apprehended him and took him in for additional questioning based on this information.
A more thorough search of McDaniel’s apartment yielded packaging for a hacksaw, multiple flash drives, and a pair of underwear with Giddings’ DNA on it. The flash disks contained child pornographic photos.
Police discovered a hacksaw and a bloody sheet in the complex’s laundry area, which matched the package found in McDaniel’s unit. Giddings’ blood was eventually confirmed through testing.
Stephen McDaniel was charged with Lauren Giddings’ murder on Aug. 2, 2011, according to the Talk Murder with Me podcast. In addition, he was charged with seven charges of child sexual exploitation.
The Signs That Lauren Giddings Was Murdered
Lauren Giddings had already expressed concern to her sister about the strangeness of her flat. “She felt like items had been moved around in her apartment,” Wheeler added.
Investigators discovered that Giddings sent her last email to her lover, David Vandiver, on June 25, 2011. Vandiver was on a golf trip in California, and Giddings reported that she believed her apartment had been broken into on the night of Thursday, June 23.
Giddings, on the other hand, dismissed the issue, claiming it was most likely just “Macon hoodlums.”
However, Giddings’ feelings were reasonable. McDaniel had been stalking her, according to a memory card recovered from his apartment.
“We found erased video he had used to survey her home,” Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said. He’d taken a wooden pole and duct-taped or otherwise attached a camera to the end of it, then held the pole up pretty high to peer inside her window.”
McDaniel’s search history included results for her social media and LinkedIn accounts. “Sometimes he’d be looking for photographs of her around the same time he was seeking up violent pornography,” Cooke revealed.
McDaniel first pleaded not guilty, but changed his mind after prosecutors agreed to drop the allegations of child sexual exploitation. Stephen McDaniel admitted to killing and dismembering Lauren Giddings in April 2014, a week before his trial was to begin.
Stephen McDaniel’s Brutal Confession Regarding Lauren Giddings’ Murder
In the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, Stephen McDaniel used his master key to enter Giddings’ flat, according to his confession. He stood there watching her sleep for a long, but as he approached her, a creak in the bed jolted her awake. “Get the f— out!” she shouted when she spotted him.
After that, McDaniel rushed on top of her and grabbed her throat. Despite her valiant efforts, he was soon strangling her to death. He returned home after dragging her body to the bathroom.
He returned with the hacksaw the next night and mutilated her body. He then disposed of her limbs in a variety of trash cans around the region. Garbage collection services would have emptied the bin where Giddings’ torso was found if the police had not been alerted to the site when they were, and the case would have gone cold.
Stephen McDaniel was sentenced to life in prison thanks to the fast actions of Lauren Giddings’ sister and friends. Giddings’ family may not get to watch her pursue her dream of becoming a criminal defense attorney, but they can be rest assured that her killer will never go free.