LAUREL, Md. (WJZ)– A final good-bye. Mourners in Howard County pay their respects to a young future lawyer, brutally murdered shortly after graduation.
Weijia Jiang reports on the tribute to Lauren Giddings, and the investigation into her death.
Family and friends say that while holding the funeral was an important step to more forward, what they really need for closure is a conviction in the case.
At the Laurel church she grew up in, a Saturday funeral was held for the 27 year old. Hundreds of loved ones filled the St. Mary of the Mills Church.
“Definitely brought out a feeling of peace I hope her family will have,” said Stephanie O’Sullivan, Giddings’ friend. “It’s very tragic.”
Giddings recently graduated from law school in Macon, Ga. But shortly after, on June 30, police found her dismembered body in a trash can outside her apartment.
This week, police charged Giddings’ 25-year-old neighbor and former classmate, Stephen McDaniel, with felony murder. Even before the arrest, Giddings‘ family told WJZ they suspected he could be responsible.
“As a parent, we feel somewhat guilty that she lived next door to this person and we did think he was somewhat strange,” Lauren Giddings’ mother Karen Giddings’ said. “But we really didn’t think of him as anything but awkward and shy and not a threat.”
Even more unsettling, McDaniel told reporters he helped look for Giddings when she first went missing.
“No sign of a struggle, no sign that anyone had broken in, nothing,” said Stephen McDaniel, the defendant in the murder case. “She was gone. All her stuff was there.”
But for the family this day was not about the suspect. It was about remembering the beautiful, young victim, who meant so much to so many.
“In the ceremony, three people started their remembrance of Lauren as ‘she was my best friend,'” said David Whitmire, Lauren Giddings’ classmate at law school. “I’m thinking, she was my best friend too.”
Police have yet to reveal a possible motive in this case, but the Giddings family tell WJZ that they believe it was a case of fatal attraction.
Anyone wishing to donate can send checks to the Lauren Teresa Giddings Family Fund, St. Mary of the Mills Church, Attn: Giddings Family, 114 St. Mary’s Place, Laurel, MD 20707.
Proceeds will be used to help pay for the funeral costs and will also be donated to the Special Olympics.