New law students move into Giddings' former apartment complex

cgrant@macon.comJuly 31, 2011 

David Doverspike Jr. will be following in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one as he prepares for his first semester at Mercer University’s law school, his namesake’s alma mater.

He considered at least eight different places to live in Macon before deciding Barristers Hall, the Georgia Avenue apartment complex that sits just steps from the Walter F. George School of Law, was the best fit.

“He actually lived here about 30 years ago. He liked it,” Doverspike said of his father Saturday as the two arranged his belongings in the first-year law student’s new home.

Doverspike said he signed his lease on May 22, “way before everything happened.”

“Everything” started a month ago with the discovery of a torso in a trash bin just feet from Doverspike’s new front door. It was found to be part of the dismembered body of 2011 Mercer law graduate Lauren Giddings, who lived in that same building at Barristers Hall.

Police officers are still trying to piece together the 27-year-old Maryland-native’s murder as they continue to await forensic test results from evidence sent to the FBI crime lab in Virginia.

“It’s very sad. I’ve never heard of something like that before,” Doverspike said, as he stood inside a unit on the rear side of the complex’s first building. “My initial thought was, ‘Would this place still be safe?’ but I thought it was such an out of the ordinary sort of occurrence that I wouldn’t think it would happen again.”

Doverspike said he spoke with Marty Bush, co-owner of the complex, who assured him that new security cameras were being installed and new locks had been put on the apartments.

Doverspike’s father, who lived at the Georgia Avenue apartment complex while studying at Mercer law, said the news stunned him when he heard about it in John’s Creek.

“Mostly my concern was her family, particularly her parents. I know it would just tear me up. I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” he said, adding that he wasn’t worried about this son’s safety at the complex.

Barristers Hall has been a focal point of the murder investigation, as detectives repeatedly scoured at least three units within the complex.

Along with Giddings’ apartment, significant attention was also given to the unit next door, belonging to fellow 2011 Mercer law graduate Stephen McDaniel.

McDaniel has been named a “person of interest” in the murder investigation and has been held at the Bibb County Jail on two unrelated burglary charges for nearly a month. Police have not named a suspect in the murder investigation.

“I‘m hoping that it doesn’t come back to the guy who was arrested on the theft charges,” Doverspike said. “I’m hoping that he was not involved in the murder. … I want to think that a student from Mercer law wouldn’t be able to do such a thing.”

As the new tenants moved in Saturday, nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the Georgia Avenue complex.

The “Do Not Enter” signs once posted on Giddings’ and McDaniel’s apartments were removed days before and a memorial Giddings’ family and friends set up, placing flowers, notes and ribbon along the fence in front of the complex, was gone.

Doverspike said he thinks Barristers Hall will continue to be a place area law students call home, despite the murder.

“It could be a little bit of an issue, but I think just the proximity to the law school, I think that it still will continue to be a good place for law school students to live,” he said.

To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 744-4347.

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