Classmate Charged In Slaying Of Law School Grad From Howard County

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Police in Georgia make an arrest in the murder of a Howard County native. Her classmate and next-door neighbor is facing charges.

Gigi Barnett spoke with the victim’s family about the arrest.

Last month, Georgia detectives discovered 27-year-old Lauren Gidding’s dismembered body inside a trash can just outside her Macon, Ga. apartment.

Now, police say Giddings’ law school classmate and next-door neighbor– 25-year-old Stephen Mark McDaniel– killed her.

“All the evidence that we have, we received back, ended up linking to one person, ” said Chief Mike Burns, Macon Police Department.

Giddings’ sister– Kaitlyn Wheeler– talked with WJZ by phone.

“We knew this was coming for a while,” Wheeler said. “So it was a relief that it actually happened. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, what if it doesn’t?’ It [charging McDaniel] doesn’t make it any easier.”

Giddings– an Atholton High School graduate– went missing back on June 25. She and McDaniel had just graduated from Mercer Law School in May. Detectives have kept their eyes on McDaniel since he admitted to burglarizing another neighbor’s apartment.

He also told police and reporters that he was in Giddings’ apartment searching for her shortly after she went missing.

“No sign of a struggle, no sign that anyone had broken in,” said McDaniel. “Just nothing. Just, she was gone.”

Police are still searching for Giddings’ other body parts.

Her family still wants police to treat the search as a missing persons case.

Prosecutors called the Giddings family Tuesday night to tell them about the arrest.

“As a parent, we feel somewhat guilty that she lived next door to this person, and we did think he was somewhat strange,” said Karen Giddings, Lauren’s mother. “But we really didn’t think of him as anything but awkward and shy and not a threat.”

Police released Lauren Giddings’ remains to her family last month. Her funeral is scheduled for this weekend.

McDaniel’s attorney says his client is not guilty and plans to fight the charges.


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