In this article:
- Many murderers like to stay close to the investigation which they caused. However, Stephen McDaniel took it to another level by actually giving a lengthy TV interview about the disappearance of Lauren Giddings, the woman who he killed and dismembered.
- McDaniel and Giddings were both recent graduates of Macon Law. They also lived next to one another. For weeks, McDaniel had been stalking Giddings and forming his despicable plan.
- On June 26, 2011, McDaniel broke into Giddings’s apartment using a master key he had stolen from the apartment manager and strangled her to death. He then cut her up with a hacksaw and threw her body in a dumpster. Luckily, he was caught soon after and sentenced to life in prison.
It’s not uncommon for killers to want to be close to the investigation. Throughout history, there have been killers such as Robert Maury who have called in tips for their own murders. There have been murderers that have attended and even spoke at the funerals of their own victims.
At the very least, most murderers typically follow the news to see what the media is saying about their crimes and if their names are brought up in connection to the murder. However, in the case of Stephen McDaniel, the perpetrator of a gruesome murder in Macon, Georgia, he inserted himself into the very center of the investigation when he agreed to do a TV interview with a local news outlet in which he posed as a distraught neighbor.
In McDaniel’s mind, doing an interview and speaking about his murder victim on TV was probably his way of affirming to himself that he was smarter than everyone else, that he could “hide in plain sight” and dance around right under everyone’s noses and never be caught.
However, clearly, McDaniel was not as smart as he thought. He was arrested for the murder of Lauren Giddings just a few short hours after the TV interview concluded. He’s currently rotting in Valdosta State Prison, exactly where he belongs.
Hubris is, of course, a large part of the psychology that leads someone to take another human life. The idea that your life is more valuable than the lives of others and the confidence to think that you can outsmart the police are both instrumental in creating murders. However, it’s still difficult to think that Stephen McDaniel’s ego was inflated to the point where he was willing to appear on television and fake grief over the death of his own victim.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the death of Lauren Giddings and the infamous TV interview of Stephen McDaniels.
A Murder at Mercer
In 1985, Stephen McDaniel was born to his parents Glenda and Mark. At first glance, his childhood appeared very normal. He grew up in the town of Lilburn, Georgia, a small suburb just outside of Atlanta. He is said to have been an avid fan of the Lord of the Rings series of books and movies.
He graduated high school and received an undergraduate degree and then enrolled at Mercer Law. At 25 years old, he was walking among the red brick buildings of Mercer University under the swaying Georgia pines. The picturesque campus brings tidings of peace and academia. It’s hardly the place where one would expect a murder to occur.
However, during his enrollment, Stephen McDaniels found himself an apartment on Georgia Avenue, a short distance from the Mercer campus. It was there that he would meet his next-door neighbor Lauren Giddings.
McDaniel and Giddings had both recently graduated from Mercer Law. Giddings was preparing to take the Georgia Bar Exam and embark on her bright future as a lawyer. However, McDaniels has other plans for her. Suspecting that someone had been watching her, Giddings sent an email to her boyfriend expressing that she believed someone had tried to break into her apartment. But the warning came too late. On June 26, 2011, Stephen McDaniels broke into her apartment and strangled her to death.
Giddings’s family and friends began to grow worried when she didn’t answer any of their calls or texts. Some of them even visited her apartment and saw that her car was still in the parking lot; however, she wouldn’t answer the door when they knocked. So, Giddings’s friend Ashley Morehouse entered the apartment with a spare key and found Giddings’s purse, keys, and books still sitting around, but Lauren Giddings was nowhere to be found.
Ashley Morehouse called the police shortly after. When they arrived on the scene, they saw no sign of forced entry. However, after spraying luminol on walls and in the bathroom, it became clear that they were dealing with a murder.
One of the detectives on the case claimed that, while they were investigating, the wind began to turn and brought with it an unbearable odor. The investigators followed the scent and found the torso of Lauren Giddings sitting in a dumpster just outside the apartment complex.
At the very same time, Stephen McDaniels was standing in front of a camera, speaking to a reporter from a local news channel. Throughout the interview, McDaniel tries to act like a worried neighbor. However, he seemed more concerned with establishing that he knew nothing about the whereabouts of Giddings rather than expressing actual concern for her.
McDaniel’s demeanor took a hard shift when the reporter told him that Giddings’s body had been discovered. He requested to sit down and became increasingly nervous and stuttered quite a bit.
At that point, McDaniel was already considered a suspect in the case. And, later that day, the police searched McDaniel’s apartment, at which point he began sweating profusely and is said to have drunk at least 10 bottles of water while the police were in his apartment.
McDaniel was eventually brought to the police station for questioning. During the interrogation, he did not reveal anything incriminating; however, he was acting incredibly strangely. It wasn’t long after, though, that evidence would come to light that would lead to McDaniel’s arrest and conviction.
The Truth Revealed
In the days following McDaniel’s interrogation, police found the packaging for the hacksaw used to dismember Giddings’s body in McDaniel’s room. They also found a master key to the apartment building, which McDaniel had stolen from the building’s manager, that he used to enter Giddings’s apartment.
The police also found a pair of Giddings’s panties as well as several blog posts from McDaniel that described horrific torture and violence toward women. At this point, McDaniel was pretty much caught red-handed.
After being held in custody for over 10 months, McDaniel finally confessed and described the ways in which he stalked, murdered, and dismembered Lauren Giddings. He admitted that he had been spying on Giddings for several weeks leading up to the murder, filming into her apartment with a video camera that he attached to a long stick.
McDaniel also admitted to stealing the master key from the apartment manager and using it to enter Giddings’s apartment. When she awoke to the sound of him entering, he pounced on her and strangled her to death. He then dragged her body to the bathtub and dismembered her with a hacksaw. He deposited her body in the dumpster, assuming that it would be taken to the dump before anyone would discover it.
Stephen McDaniels was sentenced to life in prison at trial and is currently being held at Valdosta State Prison. His mother has expressed that she believes McDaniel is innocent and was framed. However, from the evidence available in the case, it seems pretty obvious that McDaniel is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted.
It also seems clear that, if he had not been caught for the murder of Lauren Giddings, McDaniel would have gone on to kill again.