An effort is under way to gather volunteers and donations of equipment to help search a Twiggs County landfill in hopes of finding more of slain Mercer University law graduate Lauren Giddings’ remains.
Macon police are working with the FBI and Giddings’ family to launch a second search at the landfill, but the search could cost $50,000 or more per day. A backhoe and a few off-road trucks are needed, as are workers to drive the equipment and vehicles.
Police detectives and a search dog previously scoured the Wolf Creek Landfill -- where garbage thrown away at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law is taken -- soon after Giddings’ dismembered torso was discovered outside her Georgia Avenue apartment building June 30. The law school is located across the street from the 27-year-old Giddings’ apartment.
The search party found no additional remains.
Since then, that area of the landfill has been kept clear of other garbage in case authorities were able to perform a more in-depth search, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
The landfill lies just north of U.S. 80 near Dry Branch, about four miles northeast of the Sgoda Road exit on Interstate 16.
Police wouldn’t object to another search at the landfill, Police Chief Mike Burns has said.
Kaitlyn Wheeler, Lauren Giddings’ 24-year-old sister, said her family has been hesitant to ask for public help in searching for her sister’s remains because of the lack of clues on where to look.
“It’s a shot in the dark, but any effort to find her body will be welcomed,” she said of the search.
As investigators continue the fine-toothed probe of their prime suspect, 25-year-old Stephen Mark McDaniel, and his belongings, authorities are not just scouring his computer and a computer that belonged to his alleged victim.
They are also examining electronics, including flash drives, memory cards and cameras, a law enforcement source said.
Police have submitted more than 200 pieces of evidence to the FBI and GBI during the course of the investigation.
Macon police still are awaiting FBI lab results of possible trace evidence that might have been in McDaniel’s decade-old Geo Prizm or in Giddings’ Mitsubishi Galant. Forensic testing also is incomplete on guns and knives found in McDaniel’s apartment.
Results haven’t been returned from evidence collected from a sexual assault kit performed on Giddings’ body.
McDaniel was charged with murder Aug. 2 in connection with killing Giddings, his neighbor and law school classmate.
His arrest warrant alleges that authorities found a hacksaw with Giddings’ DNA in a locked room at the apartment complex. Packaging for the saw was recovered from McDaniel’s apartment, as were a master key to the complex and a key to Giddings’ residence.
A commitment hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26 in McDaniel’s case. He is being held at the Bibb County jail without bond.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.