Crime

GoFundMe page seeking ‘justice’ for killer Stephen McDaniel taken down for violation

Macon police interview Stephen McDaniel after Lauren Giddings’ disappearance

This is a video of Macon police interviewing Stephen McDaniel for the first time following the disappearance of his fellow Mercer University law student, Lauren Giddings.
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This is a video of Macon police interviewing Stephen McDaniel for the first time following the disappearance of his fellow Mercer University law student, Lauren Giddings.

The man who pleaded guilty to murdering Lauren Giddings, dismembering her body and dumping her remains in garbage cans in the summer of 2011 has lost his GoFundMe page to raise money as he “seeks justice” in a long-shot appeal.

Stephen McDaniel pleaded guilty in 2014 to strangling Giddings, who was his next-door neighbor and Mercer University law school classmate. He was sentenced to life in prison but with the possibility of parole.

Two weeks ago, his online fundraising campaign began with a goal of $5,000 to help “gather funds for legal expenses.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the effort had not raised a penny.

Giddings’ sister, Kaitlyn Wheeler, told The Telegraph in a text message that she thinks McDaniel’s fundraiser is “ridiculous. ... Pathetic and delusional would be other choice words.”

In an email late Wednesday, a GoFundMe spokesman informed The Telegraph that McDaniel’s “campaign violates GoFundMe’s terms of service and it has been removed from the platform.”

McDaniel, from Lilburn outside of Atlanta, is now in prison in Augusta. He turns 33 next month and will likely be in his mid-50s before he can be considered for parole.

In mid-August, he will put his law degree to work, serving as his own attorney as he makes his case in court, pursuing a near-last-ditch appeal, claiming that the police, prosecutors and his own lawyers did him wrong.

The likelihood of him being granted the trial he never had is remote. His guilty plea hamstrings many avenues of appeal.

His GoFundMe page, which featured a family photo of him smiling, appeared to have been created by his father, Mark McDaniel.

The page mentioned that Stephen’s upcoming hearing “will determine whether he will be reunited with his family ... or will be denied his day in court.”

It also said “Stephen has been separated from his family for the past 7 years” and that he has been “deprived the privilege of seeing and being a part” of his relatives’ lives.

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