FBI: Giddings slaying a sex-fantasy crime

jkovac@macon.comJanuary 3, 2014 

Lauren Giddings’ killer may have been a sex-driven predator who acted out fantasies after targeting her because she was “available, vulnerable, and desirable.”

That’s according to the findings of an FBI specialist who examined details of Giddings’ 2011 death.

The FBI analyst’s conclusions appear in a 2013 report, which lawyers for accused killer Stephen McDaniel want kept out of his February trial.

A copy of the FBI report was included in a motion filed Friday by McDaniel’s attorneys.

“The public has been inundated with television shows (“The Profiler”) and movies (“Silence of the Lambs” and other Hannibal Lecter films) touting the abilities of FBI profilers to solve crimes and find murderers based upon psychological profiling,” McDaniel’s attorneys wrote.

“The mere appearance” of such a specialist at trial, the attorneys contend, would likely “mislead or confuse the jury and suggest that such agent has formed an irrefutable profile of Lauren Giddings’s killer.”

FBI behavioral analyst Robert J. Morton, in a report he fashioned based on Giddings’ autopsy and other information Macon police compiled about her death, wrote:

“The motive for the murder was sexual in nature. The offender specifically targeted and deliberately chose the victim because she met the criteria for his sexual fantasy. ... Murder is a part of the fantasies.”

Giddings’ dismembered torso was found June 30, 2011, wrapped in plastic garbage bags in a trash bin outside the Georgia Avenue apartments where she and McDaniel were next-door neighbors. Her other remains never turned up.

Giddings, 27, blond-haired and athletic with plenty of friends, was a Mercer University law school classmate of McDaniel’s. But those who knew her say Giddings and McDaniel were not friends.

McDaniel, now 28, has been described as an aloof oddball who was fascinated by zombies and who liked to hole up in his apartment and play video games. He was charged with Giddings’ murder in August 2011.

Some details in Morton’s report had, until Friday, never been made public, including the revelation that Giddings, in the days before she was last seen on June 25, 2011, “had complained to friends that someone had been in her apartment without her permission.”

McDaniel, who allegedly had a key to her apartment, is charged with a pair of burglaries at the Barristers Hall complex, but those charges involve burglaries of other residences in the complex.

Morton’s analysis goes on to note that, in his opinion, “the person who had previously entered the victim’s apartment was the offender who killed her.”

Morton added that “sexually motivated offenders (choose) victims because they are available, vulnerable, and desirable.”

He notes that Giddings, already concerned about her safety, “would have been extremely cautious in opening her door to a stranger. ... It appears the offender was able to either trick the victim into opening the door because the offender was known to the victim and/or entered utilizing a key.”

The FBI analysis states that once inside the killer used a weapon or threats to subdue Giddings, whose blood-alcohol level was .11, according to an autopsy report. There were no signs of a struggle in the apartment.

Morton suggests that the killer, at some point, “took the victim out of her apartment and transported her to a second location,” locking her door upon leaving. “It is probable the offender dismembered the victim in close proximity to this location ... to allow for the surreptitious removal of her remains in order to conceal the murder.”

Giddings’ time of death is unknown.

According to the FBI report, which cites Giddings’ autopsy, there were “saw kerf striations” on bones in her arms and legs, which her killer presumably amputated.

A hacksaw with Giddings’ DNA on it was found in a maintenance closet at her apartment complex, authorities have said, and packaging for such a saw allegedly was found in McDaniel’s apartment.

A pretrial-motions hearing is set for Monday before Bibb County Superior Court Judge Howard Simms.

Arguments on a number of fronts will be heard, including possible new evidence discovered by the GBI on one of McDaniel’s laptop computers. But first, prosecutors will have to fend off a defense claim that a warrant used to seize the computer was invalid.

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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