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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  April 25, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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>> were not victims, we are survivors. and survivors keep on living life. and -- we are survivors. >> i'm craig i'm craig melvin and i'm melvin >> and i'm natalie morales. and this is dateline. natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. >> i would tell i her how much i miss want to tell around her. which i miss her, and that i love her. and that i love her. and she is the reason why i am who i am today. i would tell her thank you. lauren givings, law school grad with the world at her feet. >> fiercely intelligent? >> and fiercely -- her opinion, she made friends wherever she went. >> so, it was strange when she dropped out of sight. >> did not take her car, did
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not take her purse. we realized something was wrong. >> they could not possibly have guessed how wrong. >> there is another level of evil here, the person who did this was trying to create a vanishing. >> good do such a thing? >> first thing you look is who is closest to her, romantic lee or geographically. >> the list was long. they boyfriend, an ex and fellow students. had somebody been studying more than textbooks? but >> he would ask people, how would you commit the perfect murder? >> his roommates said he thought he was smarter than everybody else. >> smart, maybe. but had he slipped up? >> what they had found told us everything we needed to know. >> a confounding case that would come down into a damning piece of video that no one was supposed to see. >> sick, twisted. >> what was it like to see that? >> i knew that we had him. >> ♪ ♪ ♪
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hello, and welcome to dateline. lorraine getting spooked south to law school, and immediately felt right at home. smart and vibrant, she turned heads on campus, but kept her own eyes on her bright future. then, suddenly she vanished. turns out that someone close to lauren was hiding a secret and hiding in plain sight. but here is keith morrison with, the water. . >> it was a summer morning in the heart of georgia. heat rose thick and damp among the old antebellum mentions. as the morning traffic drove by. something in the air that morning. something off. maybe just the trash truck. >> this was a 90-degree day. towards the end of june. there was a hot wind blowing that day. >> joe covax was down at the
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local paper. but and all of the sudden -- >> i could remember the buzz in the newsroom. >> oh, this would be big. big, and disturbing. sometimes, things can be like that in the south, says joe. >> it was the shock, a shock to the system. ♪ ♪ ♪ but, there is something else about the south, something sweet, magnetic. it draws people in, and macon, with a storied history and his cherry blossoms at its very heart. >> but slow, relaxing. everybody here is welcoming. >> even for a new yorker but, -- who signed up at the mercer law school over here. >> you never meet a stranger i guess, in the south. that is what makes it so wonderful, comforting. >> it is where she met lauren giddings. >> when we found out that we
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were both from the north, we just instantly connected on that >> but, then why would you not want to connect with lauren? she was bigger than life. >> she was infectious. i mean, you could not be around her for more than five minutes, and not already be having a good time. >> she was the adored eldest of three sisters. youngest, sarah. >> we would always go on runs together. >> kaitlan, in the middle. >> she was more like a book warm. she loves to read, academics. >> lauren grew up in maryland, halfway between baltimore and d.c., with her friend, katie o'hare. >> she was a riot. the things that will come out of her mouth sometimes, she would not have a filter. >> why did she go with self for school? >> she loved the south. she was a country girl at heart. when she got there, she loved it. she did not want to come back up here. >> lauren certainly knew what she wanted, she wanted to be a lawyer. but not one of those corporate
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types, or even a crusading prosecutor. lorraine wanted to be a public defender, a voice for the poor and the accused. >> why did you want to do that? >> she always wanted to help people, always. >> and mercer law school, perched on its hillside in one of macon's sweet spots seemed just right for her. >> she was a friend fan of nancy grace, who graduated from there. >> lauren found the great apartment right across the street from the law school, full of aspiring lawyers, the next door neighbor was a classmate, even the maintenance man was a student. and soon, she was everywhere, running in the park, active in her church. eventually, president of her law schools federalist society. she was hard to miss! >> she showed up in her pink outfit. >> always pink? >> all these pink! or even seersucker! >> and always with her dog, butter bean. >> fluffy, blond haired, just like she was. >> and she carried it around
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all the time? >> always. she was basically in legally blonde. we always kind of jive her for that. >> it was no surprise that she attracted a lot of men. >> she always had people kind of infatuated with her, that is how she was. >> like david. she interned at his law firm in atlanta, he was 20 years older, but their relationship seemed pretty serious. until apparently, it wasn't. >> being in school was hard. they were not living in the same city or anything. >> besides -- >> lorraine was a flirt. i mean, she liked attention. >> and she got it, from a classmate named joe. >> he was more on the goofy or side, and also her age. >> so they became an item. but, there was something about david, some chemistry that drew her back. and she gave joe the bad news. >> lauren was up front, told
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joe, and that was that. >> a bit broken hearted, on joe is part? >> i think so, he really liked or. who wouldn't? >> anyway, at graduation time, may, 2011, david was there to cheer her on. it was a big event for the whole family. >> we went out after her graduation with her family, got to know everybody. >> just a month later, another celebration, up north. her sister's wedding. >> i did want to say how special this wedding is, obviously not -- >> lauren was made of honor. and then, back to macon for the final hurdle. the bar exam. a busy, scary time for a young lawyer? >> absolutely. >> but first -- >> it was everybody's last hurrah. >> it was friday night, end of june, 2011. the graduates gathered at a local bar, for one last blowout before hunkering down to study.
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they closed the bar, went to ashley's boyfriends place. lawrence ex, joe, was his roommate. >> eventually, we just all kind of decided we are going to go to sleep now. >> right. >> i will remind you, there was alcohol involved. >> surprise, surprise. >> right! >> lorraine stayed the night in joe's room. the next day, everybody was moving a bit slowly. >> i did not see lauren that morning. i also did not see joe that morning. we just assumed they were in the room together. >> it was then time to buckle down. all of the friends, joe included, went off to cram. >> you just kind of go into this hole, and you study constantly, you have no contact with anybody. >> so it took a few days to realize that nobody had heard from lauren. >> no reason yet to assume anything was wrong, but soon, there would be. >> coming up --
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>> i was immediately like, this is not right. >> alarm bells for one friend, while another steals herself, to enter lauren's apartment. >> i said, are you ready for whatever we will see when we walk in there? >> when dateline continues. n dateline continues advanced non-small cell lung cancer can change everything. but your first treatment could be a chemo-free combination of two immunotherapies that works differently. it could mean a chance to live longer. opdivo plus yervoy is for adults newly diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, tests positive for pd-l1
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[sfx: psst psst] allergies don't have to be scary. spraying flonase daily stops your body from overreacting to allergens all season long. psst! psst! all good >> it was the trip north that set off the alarm. the selfies katie or hear snapped and then nine days later, texted to her friend down in macon, lauren guidance. >> they were kind of funny, so i know she's going to respond to me. and i said oh my gosh, if you post that online.
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i'm going to get. you >> but no response. was she studying too hard to look at a few photos? katie tried again the next day. and the day after that. and again, no response. >> that's not normal for her. we would talk a lot. >> katie called lauren cell phone. and her phone was off. and i immediately was like, this isn't right. so i called her say sister caitlin and i said, lawrence phone is off. she hasn't been answering me for days. have you heard from her? >> no, she had not. so caitlin reached out to lauren's school friend ashley. >> her sister contacted me over a message on facebook. >> hey, trying to get into touch with lauren. have you seen her? can you let her know we're trying to get in touch with her. we haven't heard from her. >> this was wednesday. now thinking back, actually hadn't seen lauren since that pre-study party friday night. actually went to lauren's
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apartment. her car was there. she knocked out the door. >> when she didn't answer, i didn't think anything of it. i soon she was running, i assume she was studying somewhere. >> so, she let it go. but then a few hours later, her sister -- >> her sister contacted me again and said this is an emergency. we've been trying to call her and she still is not answering. >> now actually began to worry. so she and her boyfriend referring return to lauren's police and use the spare key to go inside. first, she warned her boyfriend. >> i said, are you ready for whatever we're going to see when we walk in there. because at that point in time, you just have this almost sort of dread. >> it was dark by then. >> we had to walk pretty far back into the apartment to find a light to turn on. searched her bedroom, she's not in there. >> what they did find was quite puzzling. >> her purse, her keys, her cell phone, her i.d., all on
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the couch. her laptop on her bed. >> as if she just gone out for a run, or something? >> exactly like that. but >> know her? >> and butter been, her dog. had been at home with her parents in maryland. so the fact that was her dog wasn't there wasn't concerning to us. the fact that she wasn't there, that was later. that's when it became real. >> something else occurred to them. he lauren was due to move out the next day, june 30th. but -- >> nothing was packed in boxes. but it definitely looked like she was getting her stuff together to be able to pack it. >> she'd already told her friends, her plan was to move to her boyfriend david's place in atlanta. an hour and a half up the highway. >> that was supposed to be the plan. that was lauren's plan. >> even though some of lawrence friends for thought they weren't right for each other. >> i don't know if i want to use the word flaky, but the relationship with david was flaky. >> lauren's called david.
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he said he hadn't doctrine days. >> i remember specifically him hanging up and calling back a few minutes later saying, what's going on? >> back at the apartment, ashley rounded up lauren's law school friends. including the ex-boyfriend joe. with whom she'd spent the night last time any of the friends saw her. >> joe immediately went to the law school to search the law school for her. >> while the other friends took a careful look around the apartment. they found some food wrappers and in her car, a receipt from a restaurant drive-through time stamped saturday, six away pm. the evening after that pre-study party. but now it was wednesday night. >> the restaurant was at that 0.4 days old. >> so, where did she go? for a run? did she have some sort of accident? or was it something even worse? >> friends lauren's knew she spent time visiting prisoners
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when she was a public defender at the -- >> it make you wonder about which encountered? >> she encountered all sorts. people should visit the jail often. >> maybe someone took an un-selfie liking to her. and then they remembered something lauren said the night of that last pre-study party. >> she had thought someone had been stalking her. but we didn't really pay much attention to it. because of who lauren was. >> she was a girl who always had admirers who stood out. just about everybody who lived in the apartment complex new lauren. including of course, her fellow student and next door neighbor, and he wanted to help search for her. he asked about window locks. >> somebody check her windows to see if they were open? or locked? >> yes, i think one might have been on lock. >> friends also checked lauren's computer and discovered that her last online activity was an email sent saturday night. this was disturbing. >> it was an email to david. it was eerie.
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>> what did it say? >> essentially that she thought someone was trying to break into her house the night prior. i think she worded it, the person being a hoodlum. a macon hoodlum. >> the ultimate fear. that some evil stranger had taken their friend, lauren getting. >> coming up. investigators search lawrence apartment with a forensic tool that reveals a critical clue hiding in plain sight. >> the black light switch. >> when dateline continues. nues ne revving ] [ race light countdown ] ♪♪ ♪♪ when you save money with allstate you feel like you're winning. safe drivers save 40% saving is easy when you're in good hands. allstate. click or call for a quote today.
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>> there is a special tortured to be far away when a loved one is missing. >> did you go to sleep that night? >> no, i basically have the laptop in front of me, the cell phone, kept going back and forth. >> around 2 am, thursday, lauren's sister woke up their dad. >> he has 100 questions, and i do not have an answer to any of them, i did not know anything, you know? her apartment was empty. her stuff was there. >> unable to sit and wait for answers, lawrence dad packed up his car and started the 11 hour drive to georgia. macon police, now part of the sheriff's department looked around lawrence apartment the night before, but then by morning, there was still no sign of her, so detectives were called in. and with them, crime scene investigator steve gallon.
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>> do crime scene tex ruchim missing persons cases? >> not normally, but this was a little different. >> she was a social animal, and they do not just vanish, right? >> exactly, to just disappear with no trace, without talking to anyone, it was unlike. or >> so, he looked up at lauren's front door, second for, left side. nothing seemed amiss. up front, a garbage truck lumbered up. but, blocked by the police cars, it was unable to empty the compactness trash bins. the truck moved on. by then, the lieutenant was in the apartment, looking around. >> it felt like somebody walked out, shut the door. >> puzzling. the day was hot already. a humid breeze scattered across the yard. >> we came up over here, that is when the wind kind of hit you in the face, and you could smell something. you could smell a foul odor. >> a recognizable foul order? >> pretty much. >> that was the small that the
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lieutenant was all too familiar with. he followed his nose, to one of the trash bins outside the apartment. >> i opened it up, looked in there and i saw, to trash bags. >> he pulls out of the bag on top, ripped it open. typical household trash. >> then, i went to the bigger one, which was a large sized package. it was a trash bag, that ice is a felt, reach down, touched it and felt it, it felt like it had some human remains in it. >> and then, to his growing hoarder, he realized that it was only part of a body. a woman's torso. nothing else. >> we started to cordon everything off with crime scene tape, leaving sheets, barriers on the other side of the fence so the news media and general public could not see what we were doing. at that time, with this investigation, they did not yet need to know, just in case, we did not want to mess anything up. if it got out too quick, what we had found.
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>> meanwhile, better take a closer look at that apartment. >> we started to systematically take each room, trying to find any evidence that we could use, using all of the techniques, science that was available to us at the time. >> one of those tools was luminous, a spray that turns blue when it comes into contact with blood. lieutenant separated in lawrence bathroom and -- >> it was like a light switch, the whole bathroom blew up. >> what did you see when you saw the bathroom light up that way? that tub? >> i was thinking, oh crap, because the whole tub, was almost two inches from the top, had the same glow. >> but this was strange. when they dusted for fingerprints and checked for hairs and fibers, they did not find much at all. >> and somebody wiped everything down. you think that you could find other peoples fingerprints, things like that. >> this was not going to be easy. police had already rounded up lauren's friends, and her neighbor did not want them to
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know about the discovery. took them all downtown to records their statements. and while they were there -- >> there was a call to our newsroom. >> this telegraph reporter joe kovac. >> there had been a body found outside the parchment, along coleman hill. >> police tried to keep the discovery quiet, but it did not take long before the news was online. and then back in maryland, where lauren's family had gathered -- >> my uncle came in and asked, he heard the news and we were like, no, we are in maryland. tell us what you are talking about. and he said, well, they found a body. and at that point, it was just hysterics. >> was it her? it must be. downtown, investigators resorted to methods. >> who is closest to her, unromantically or geographically? >> start close, as they say. close to the victim. but how close?
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oh, they had no idea. >> coming up, police look at the man in lawrence life. her boyfriend, and her ex, joe. they wondered, could there have been a love triangle gone wrong? >> people react badly to that sort of thing? >> very badly, sometimes. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues -hour relief in one drop. make it a pataday with the drop that's right for you. now without a prescription. everywhere. with less moderate-to-severe eczema, you can roll up those sleeves. with dupixent, adults saw clearer skin and significantly less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes, or a parasitic infection. if you take asthma medicines, don't change or stop them without talking to your doctor. so help heal your skin from within
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here's what's happening. pharmacies are's stocking shelves with over the counter seemed a covid test. the test will detect both symptomatic and asymptomatic gifts is when someone is infectious. however, there are antigen test, so they're less interested and genetic pcr tests. the justice department is charged 440 people in connection with the capitol riot. it expects that number will grow to over 500. the doj lowers halves to start the investigation as one of the largest in american history. now back to dateline.
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>> welcome back to dateline. i'm craig melvin. lauren guidance had been missing for days when lieutenant steve get lynn made a gruesome discovery. following the trail of an unmistakable order, he found a human tore through in a trash can outside her apartment. there was no little doubt lauren had been murdered and detectives were eager to talk to her inner circle. meanwhile, the police chief faced a heartbreaking task. here again is keith morrison. with the water. >> lauren giddings father was on the road to macon when he heard the terrible news. it was likely lauren whose body they found. and so he went to police headquarters to meet with now retired chief of police mike burns. >> he wanted to identify his daughter.
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we told him no. and then he was insistent he wanted to identify his daughter. so i cleared the room, told him that it wasn't chief to father. it was father to father. he didn't want identifier. i told him that's not the last way you want to remember your daughter. >> then chief burns told lawrence father what they found. and that he didn't need to see that. >> he just stared at me and he said i agree. and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. >> wow. >> he gave a lot of death notices but that was tough. i've got a son and three daughters, that was tough. >> but who, who would commit such a violent crime? dismember a victim. and then cover his tracks so carefully. like someone had planned it. was killing to satisfy some sicknick raving. >> do you think that morning,
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you are dealing with a holistic individual but, potentially a serial killer? >> that was one of our concerns. that somebody, a serial killer, could've gotten the inter gotten off the interstate and gotten on the interstate. i was gone. >> yeah, or could still be looking around town somewhere. >> that was another concern. >> meanwhile, lauren's friends and neighbors were sitting in separate interview rooms without their cellphones. cut off from the news outside. answering questions. among them, the apartment complex maintenance man, also a law student. who said he hadn't seen lauren for a while. her neighbor said he hadn't seen her either. stephen, the law student right next door who help trying to find her -- >> you've been home, all week right? >> mom. but >> you said the last time you've seen lauren was -- >> either last week or the week before. but it's been a few days. >> yeah.
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>> we stephen didn't exactly look like a lawyer to be but he'd been her neighbor for three years. and served with her in the local branch of the federalist citing. but like everyone else he said he'd been busy studying. with harper prep we -- just work on it and work on it. >> there were more friends and cops talk to all of them. even a running buddy who join the party that friday night at the bar. >> you hung out with her for a little while? >> i was there with her for 45 minutes that night. >> but he said he hadn't seen lauren since. >> do you know where lauren is? >> nobody was immune from suspicion. even among that group of friends. >> your thinking about your friends and your questioning your friends. you are never asking them, hey did you do something too lauren? but you are wondering in your mind -- >> can't stop that wondering?
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>> no. i mean, who do you trust? you can't really trust anybody. and that's terrifying. >> the debt include joe? >> yes. i'm ashamed to admit it, but yes. >> joe, the ex, what did -- >> what did you learn about him? >> they did it for a couple months but lauren called it off. but he didn't call it off. >> joe told detectives that lauren spent the night in his room friday night. but she left the next morning. said she was going to the pool at a local country club. but did she make it there? detectives checked and -- >> we were able to trace down the credit card where she purchase at the same pool. >> and that zaxby's receipt her friends found, that was time stamp six away saturday. so they pulled the video. hard to tell which was lawrence car and if anyone was with. her jewel for example, had he
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rejoined her? impossible to tell from this. >> willie no one can vouch for him because we're all doing our own thing. we were all studying. >> it seemed pretty certain lauren was still alive and well at 10:30 pm. because that's when she sent that strange email her friends found on her computer. >> essentially that she thought someone was trying to break into her house. on a night prior. >> the recipient of that email was the man she intended to move in with, david. now the detectives wondered if they were dealing with a love triangle gone wrong. had david found out about lauren's night with joe? some people react badly to that sort of thing. >> very badly sometimes. >> so down at the station, detectives question david on tape. >> we found a body. we don't know if it's her or not. >> i heard that. that's why my coworker told me on the way down. >> all right. so i need your help. >> you've got it. >> well, somebody knows something.
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>> david till the detectives he was far away the weekend lauren disappeared. >> he taken a golf trip to california. >> said he hadn't talked to her in a while. >> so you're telling me, the whole time you are going to gone to california, you didn't call her? check in with her? nothing? >> no. >> then you land in atlanta, and just go back to your apartment, or house -- and you didn't even call her and tell her you are home, or anything? >> no. >> really? >> mind you, the detective said had already heard from lauren's law school friends. >> people that she goes school with says, that you will have had problems. >> we've never had -- >> recently. >> well, in march, we stopped talking. and then through may and that's when her graduation she sent me that email, would you at least please come -- >> i'm just asking. that's what they're telling me. >> no i understand. it's because it's never been, fluid and continuous. because when i felt the pressure of the commitment, i
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just backed off. >> but of course, they couldn't just take his word for it. they asked david for proof. receipts, documents, to show he was aware in california when lauren was murdered. so, did he just have them hand them over a? what >> he didn't have them with. her >> david was free to leave the police eastern. they would follow up with him of course. but back in the apartment complex, they found something. but what did it mean? >> coming up. one of the men investigators have already interviewed is about to attract their attention all over again. and then, a discovery in a maintenance closet at lauren's complex. >> it looks like blood. >> when dateline continues. trelegy for copd.
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see yourself. welcome back to the mirror. and know you're not alone. because this is not just a mirror, it's an unstoppable community. come on jesse, one more! it's every workout. come on you two, let's go! for everyone. so join in now. and see your best self. in the mirror. saturdays happen. pain happens. aleve it. aleve is proven stronger and longer on pain than tylenol. when pain happens, aleve it. all day strong. so with your home & auto bundle, you'll save money and get round-the-clock protection. -sounds great. -sure does. shouldn't something, you know, wacky be happening right now? we thought people could use a break. we've all been through a lot this year.
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-that makes sense. -yeah. so... ♪♪ now's not a good time 3/5ths of nsync. are you sure? you have us booked all day. -read the room, guys. -yeah. right? you're clearly someone who takes care of yourself. so why wait to screen for colon cancer? because when caught in early stages, it's more treatable. i'm cologuard. i'm noninvasive and detect altered dna in your stool to find 92% of colon cancers even in early stages. tell me more. it's for people 45 plus at average risk for colon cancer, not high risk. false positive and negative results may occur. ask your prescriber or an online prescriber if cologuard is right for you. i'll do it. good plan. >> lauren giddings's friends
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and neighbors had spent hours at police headquarters answering questions. but getting no answers back themselves. so when police drop them off near the apartment, they were surprised by quite a scene. >> it was quickly blocked. off news reporters were there. sheriffs officers were there. crime scene was there. >> the tv people knew about a body had been found, that's why they were here. but some of those down at police headquarters were quite
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up to date. like stephen, her fellow law student and next door neighbor. >> he's telling -- we've been trying to look for lauren. we've been out trying to find her. we don't know where she is. when >> wen stephen started talking to the local station, he said was chatty. but then the reporter broke the news to stephen that a body had been found. here's what happened then. >> i think that's where they had recover the body, or whatever they recover from. they're >> a body? >> had you heard. >> stephen stopped as if struck. >> are you okay, sir? >> i think i need to sit down. >> i thought it was odd. very odd. >> lieutenant gatlin checked on him. >> he was sitting on a cooler outside of our command post. we were trying to talk to him and he just aired like he was staring off into space. he was shaking and he just step it's a karen off into space. finally at --
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we gave him a painful a sternum stimulant stimuli to check the scene to see if their conscious are alert. >> so i parked him up a little bit? it woke him up >> all of a sudden like he came to life and said, what happened? we don't know what was going on in his mind that made him act like that. >> was it just a price? or what? >> stephen had already allowed detectives to bring a cadaver dug into his apartment and did show some interest. but it is hard to know if it meant anything. but that combined with stephen 's odd behavior was enough to take him back downtown to the station for another check. new questions. a little more pointed now. >> were you friends with, lauren? look at >> yes. >> look at me when you're talking to me, son. okay? >> were you friends were there. >> yes. >> every answer is yes. we told him to look at as when
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you're talking to. us >> stephen, did you hurt lauren? >> no. >> i know this is hard for you to tell it. but it's wean on you right now, isn't it, stephen? >> i didn't do it. >> stephen didn't budge. he insisted he had nothing to do with the murder and didn't know who did. as he talked investigators combed through his apartment. no blood, no sign of any trouble. but this was interesting -- >> they found some condoms in his dresser drawer. >> wouldn't be unusual of course, for a guy stephens each to have condoms. except, stephen had told investigators he was a virgin. and saving himself for marriage. >> interesting. >> so, the detectives sort of change course and and said, why do you have condoms? >> that was where he changed a little bit. >> he got quiet. i guess he was thinking. and then he said, i got it from
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so-and-so's apartment. >> and a mission that he's still condoms? yes. he admitted it right out of the apartments of two of his neighbors. >> so we charged him with burglary. >> and while they held him, they took a good hard look all around the apartment complex. >> this is like a community laundry room for the residents. it's got washers and dryers. >> inside -- >> this is the maintenance room. >> they found this other door. a maintenance closet, locked up tight. they used a key and looked inside. and found something -- a hacksaw with something on it. >> it looks like there is blood on each end of the saw blade. we're obviously something but he had to rinse it off but didn't do a thorough job. >> but wait a minute, who had a key to the closet? the maintenance man. >> he had a master key to all of the apartments in the complex. and the door where they kept
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supplies in the lunchroom. >> did you bring them in for questioning? >> we brought him back in. >> the maintenance man said he didn't buy that hacksaw. and provided an alibi. but by then the investigators knew, the maintenance man wasn't the only one with keys. because, in stephen's apartment -- >> we found two keys on his dresser that stood out. one was a brand-new key. the other was a key with a georgia bulldog. >> they tested the georgia bulldog. it was a master key to the complex. including the maintenance closet. and that second key? >> was cut to fit her apartment. it was the key to her. apartment >> to her apartment? >> to her apartment, yes. >> a key to lauren's apartment. why on earth would stephen have that? they got more search warrants to stevens place. and this time found women's underwear. test results proved they were lauren's. and then they found this --
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>> we found packaging, for that same kind of hacksaw in his apartment. >> it was the same type as the one found in the maintenance room? >> the same size, brand and everything. >> now they felt certain they had their man. they cleared lauren david an ex-boyfriend joe. no surprise at all to lawrence friends. >> i had never thought it was david. i never thought it was joe. >> they eventually cleared the maintenance man, to. and on all the second, five weeks after lauren disappeared, stephen mcdaniel, the quiet young law school grad was charged with murder. he maintained his innocence. pleaded not guilty. then, really of a crime so awful, a dismembered victim. we stephen head seems so harmless. no criminal record. the evidence against him with circumstantial. the district attorney wasn't confident. >> i was worried that unless we had more, that this was a case where everybody knew that he
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did it, but nobody could prove it. >> so, time to take a harder look at the evidence. >> coming up. investigators are about to discover a certain piece of deleted video. >> what was it like to see that? >> i knew we had him. >> do they though? when dateline continues. with less moderate-to-severe eczema, you can roll up those sleeves. with dupixent, teens saw clearer skin and significantly less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes or a parasitic infection. if you take asthma medicines, don't change or stop them without talking to your doctor. so help heal your skin from within and talk to your eczema specialist about dupixent.
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stephen mcdaniel was charged
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with the murder of lauren the giddings. in his apartment, police found keys to lauren's place and packaging for a hack saw like the one found in the building's maintenance room. yet prosecutors worried that their case might not convince a jury. so investigators continued to dig. and what they uncovered would leave both sides stunned. here's keith morrison with the conclusion of the water. >> lauren giddings's law school friends couldn't make sense of it. how is it possible there odd, nerdy classmate, stephen mcdaniel, could do such a horrible thing? >> he was trying to make it seem like he was this innocent, bystander. and a friend of lauren. when big county district attorney david cook took over it was already a -- case. but he wasn't sure it should be. but after all they had no evidence to prove the cause of death.
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and this was a gruesome crime. yet none of stephen's dna was found in lauren's apartment. and aside from the underwear, none of lauren's dna was found in stevens. police and the circumstantial evidence they did have -- a good defense attorney could raise reasonable doubt. perhaps clearly steven had been framed. >> he could reasonably argue that the crime scene, particularly his apartment, was it adequately secure. >> sure. >> and that other people had access -- >> indeed they did. >> and therefore, you can't provided. >> yes. >> so, there was a certain swagger that he and his team had. i think they felt not unreasonably, that they could win. >> and sure enough, stephen haley's regarded macon attorney had already accused the state from getting evidence from improper search warrants. >> i think they were eight or nine searches of stephen's apartment. >> and lauren has's underwear,
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the apartment he's, and the hacksaw package -- and all of that evidence said the attorney should be thrown. >> did you believe that the prosecution was particularly worried about your challenges? >> yes, i did think they were. >> this, the defense attorney had known and admired. i was her teacher in a transition course from law school into law practice. >> a fact he tool stephen before joining his defense team. stephen was all right was it with it. >> anyway that's why we he knew lauren herself was opposed to the death penalty so. he took it as a victory lap. the da withdrew it. but then technology. the georgia had searched stevens computers. but now they had new software. the de-asked him to take another. look >> i thought, there is no way, that this guy committed this kind of murder and doesn't have an internet history that
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would blow your mind. >> so he asked the experts to look for anything related to lauren giddings, or six, and violence. and >> when they did, it just exploded. it's obvious that he has a fascination with sadistic pornography. murder, torture, dismemberment. >> vile and yet still not proof that he murdered lauren her. so spring 2014, nothing was certain. as lauren's family and friends prepared to go two macon for trial. >> it's like the rest of my life stopped. it was all about lauren and this trial. >> and as the two sides were ready to face off in court with stephen still claiming his innocence, the fbi broke the secrets of stephen's digital camera. and recovered this -- oh my will! >> the video was him spying on her the last night she was
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alive. >> he was all stealth. must have taped his camera to a long stick, said the prosecutor. so he could peer through lauren's window and into her apartment. chilling. here was a predator in the final stage of planning. >> he was spying in there to see if she was home. because that is the night i think he planned to kill her. >> we lauren was right, she did have a stalker. someone was trying to break into her place. what's it like to see that? i >> knew we had in. i just knew we had him. >> attorney hogue had to agree. >> that would've been virtually insurmountable evidence at trial. >> and so, early april 2014, stephen cried uncle. he make a deal, plead guilty, and confessed to murdering his neighbor, lauren we giddings.
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>> he admitted that he came into our apartment in the middle of the night and that he attacked her. >> stephen said he strangled lauren to death then dismembered her body. put her torso in the trash bin of the apartment. the other remains in the law school dumpster. over the years, police and volunteered search for countless hours. even dug up a landfill. but never found anything. lauren's loved ones, including boyfriend david, looked on as stephen was sentenced to life in prison. he will be paroled eligible in 2041. stephen, the da believes, had been planning to kill for a long time. and took pleasure in what he did to lauren. >> it was an obsession for him. his dream was to commit murder and to get away with it. >> and he almost succeeded. had the police not turned up to check out was then a missing
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persons case. had their cars not prevented a garbage crock truck from picking up a bin outside the apartment. >> the body would've never been discovered and we never would have captured his stephen mcdaniel. and we never would've gotten justice. >> and now memories. of a friends last party. i remember hugging her, saying goodbye -- >> in retrospect, does it matter now that you did that? >> that you hunter. >> oh, absolutely. >> memories for a family, of a daughter and sister, who loved to run. >> i'm happy when i think about her, when i ran. it pushes me to run further. my daughter is name lauren magnolia. after lauren. >> memories of lauren giddings. >> i would tell her how much i miss her and that i love her.
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and that she is the reason why i am who i am today. i would tell her thank you. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. first up on msnbc. the johnson & johnson vaccine, going back in arms. how have u.s. states resume this single those stop shot after a pause for safety concerns. will americans take it? >> the u.s., racing to send aid to india, amid a catastrophic covid surge. the rising death toll, forcing the country to perform mass cremations. plus, >> we are demanding that we have transparency, and accountability. >> we want the body ca

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