On May 28, 1996, my niece, Laura, had just moved into a new apartment in Columbus, Ohio, two weeks before. She had a washer & dryer delivered. The two young men, Terry, age 18, and Jason, age 23, came at 7:00 p.m. to install the machines and told her she was missing a clamp. They suggested she go to Sears to purchase the clamp while they delivered another appliance. They didn't return until 10:00 p.m. The younger of the two was just finishing hooking up the dryer when he looked up and saw Terry had grabbed Laura and was holding a knife at her throat. He demanded money and her ATM card and PIN number, which she gave them immediately. Jason then made Terry wrap an extension cord around Laura's neck while he went and ransacked the apartment. When Jason came back and started threatening Terry for loosening the cord, Laura picked up the knife that had been left on the coffee table and tried to defend herself. Jason lunged at Laura, grabbed her by the neck and broke her larynx killing her instantly. There were still people coming and going at the apartment complex, so the two men wrapped Laura up in her comforter and watched television until 3:30 in the morning when they could carry her out undetected.
Laura worked as an accountant for Victoria's Secret. They have a policy that if you don't show up by 9:00 a.m., they call your home. If they get no answer, they send a security officer to your home. This was done. All of Laura's friends were called, then my brother who was in Michigan and of course the police. At first the case was treated as a missing person. Then homicide was called in after about a week. Laura was a very responsible person with a daily routine you could set your watch by. The biggest break to finding the two men was that Laura kept a ledger of all her expenses, and she had written out a check to the two young men.
It took nine months to the day before the younger man confessed to the murder and led the police to finding her body in a lake. There is too much sorrow and agony to ever put into words to describe how each of my family members felt during those e nine months until we finally buried Laura. God was so loving during this time, giving several of the family members visions of how Laura was safe, and leading us to believe there would again be peace in our hearts.
The younger man, Terry, who confessed and led us to Laura, got a suspended sentence and 5 years probation. We have since learned this boy was taken out of school at 8 years old to work at his uncle's junk yard. He was physically and sexually abused as a child. He is now in counseling and has married.
The older man, Jason, was sentenced to 27 years in prison. He has no possibility of parole until 2025. I had one hour of hatred for him during the nine months Laura was missing. It was the most frightening feeling I have ever experienced. I cannot live with such an all-consuming feeling. My parents' wisdom and faith in God helped me through that awful time. As I turn toward life, I hold out hope for Jason. If he is truly remorseful and takes advantage of counseling, education and spiritual growth while he is in prison, I will no oppose parole in 2025. I truly wish him the best this world has to offer. In a way, these two men's lives began the moment they murdered Laura. They have an opportunity to make something of themselves. I hope that Jason comes out of prison believing he has a clean slate and much to offer society.
Susan G. Williams
You can send email to Susan G. at: [email protected]
anniversary date 5-28-96
date of post 3-17-98