In a federal court filing, accused killer Stephen McDaniel has denied having any involvement in the slaying and dismemberment of his Mercer University classmate or interfering with her burial.
McDaniel is charged with murder in the death of 27-year-old Lauren Giddings.
On June 17, Giddings’ parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the 27-year-old McDaniel and are seeking more than $5 million and permission from a judge to search McDaniel’s maternal grandfather’s Pike County farm for their daughter’s remains.
Giddings’ torso was discovered June 30, 2011, in a garbage can outside the Georgia Avenue apartment complex where the two students lived in neighboring units. The rest of her remains have not been recovered.
The lawsuit alleges that McDaniel visited the farm, about an hour west of Macon, on the weekend before Giddings was killed. It was Father’s Day, but the suit contends McDaniel went there looking “for locations where he could scatter dismembered body parts through the woods.”
Investigators never searched the property.
Floyd Buford, one of McDaniel’s criminal attorneys, filed an answer to the lawsuit on McDaniel’s behalf Tuesday.
In the 13-page document, Buford contends McDaniel didn’t participate in any events associated with Giddings’ death.
Contacted Wednesday, Buford declined to comment about whether McDaniel will oppose a search of his grandfather’s property.
In his answer to the lawsuit, McDaniel denies many of the allegations brought by Giddings’ parents in their suit including:
Buying a hacksaw and ingredients to make chloroform.
Looking at boat anchors, items the Giddings family alleges could possibly be used to submerge body parts, at a Wal-Mart on June 23, 2011. Giddings’ parents allege McDaniel was spotted on surveillance footage looking at the boat anchors.
Visiting his grandfather’s farm to survey an area to scatter dismembered body parts.
Describing to a college roommate in 2007 how he would commit the “perfect murder,” including the use of chloroform. He also denies telling the roommate that he had no conscience and wanted to feel the power of having someone’s life in his hands. Giddings’ parents have alleged McDaniel told the roommate that after he killed someone he would dismember the body and scatter the parts through a wooded area. They also allege he bragged to the roommate that he would never get caught.
Stealing a master key to the apartment complex and having a duplicate key to Giddings’ apartment.
Taking steps to conceal evidence, such as painting over bloodstains on the walls of Giddings’ apartment.
Consenting to a cadaver dog search of his apartment.
Using the refrigerator in an empty apartment to store Giddings’ torso. Giddings’ parents allege their daughter’s bloodstains were found in the refrigerator.
McDaniel is demanding a jury trial in the civil case and “strict proof” from the Giddingses of their allegations against him. He also requests that court costs be paid by the Giddings family and that he been given any relief deemed appropriate by the judge.
Giddings’ parents are represented by Atlanta lawyer Kristin S. Miller, who was a close friend of Lauren’s, and by Miller’s father, Richard A. “Doc” Schneider.
McDaniel, who also is charged with 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children and two counts of burglary, is scheduled for a criminal trial in Bibb County Superior Court on Jan. 6, 2014.
Motions hearings in the case are expected to begin Sept. 16.
Prosecutors previously sought the death penalty against McDaniel, but they removed capital punishment from the case earlier this year.
McDaniel is being held at the Bibb County jail on an $850,000 bond.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.