Stephen McDaniel

It was in the summer of 2011 that we first reported on the grisly scene unfolding at Mercer Law School. The torso of Lauren Giddings, a recent graduate, had been found in the garbage outside of her apartment complex. Her neighbor and classmate, Stephen McDaniel, was charged with the crime of murder. The rest of Lauren’s body parts have never been found.

McDaniel, who earned the nickname “Hacksaw,” maintained his innocence throughout the investigation and his time spent in jail — that is, until today…

With just one week left until jury selection in his trial, McDaniel reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to murder in the death of Lauren Giddings. McDaniel claims he strangled her in her bedroom while wearing gloves and a mask during the early hours of June 26, 2011. A transcript of Lauren’s final moments accompanied McDaniel’s plea. Here are the gory details from the Macon Telegraph:

“I walked to her bedroom door and stood there, observing her sleeping. As I took another step, the floor creaked, and she awoke. She sat up in bed,” McDaniel wrote in a statement confessing his actions on the night Giddings was killed in 2011. …

Seeing McDaniel in her apartment about 4:30 a.m. on June 26, 2011, Giddings told him to leave.

“I leaped across the bed onto her and grabbed her around the throat,” McDaniel wrote. “We tumbled out of the bed to the floor.”

While she was trying to escape from McDaniel’s clutches, she pulled the mask from his face and recognized her assailant, and begged him to stop. It must have been simply terrifying.

Lauren Giddings

But, McDaniel said he continued to strangle her with his hands around her throat until she stopped moving.

He moved her body to her bathtub and went back to his apartment, where he stayed throughout the day.

That night, he returned and dismembered her. He wrapped her limbs and head in several black trash bags and threw them in a dumpster at Mercer’s law school across the street, according to the confession.

He cut up the mask, gloves and his shirt. He flushed them down his toilet.

McDaniel wrote that he put Giddings’ torso in the apartment complex trash can just before daylight on June 28, about two days before it was discovered.

“It’s difficult for me to explain why I killed Lauren and attempted to conceal my deed the way I did,” McDaniel wrote in a statement. “If I could take back what happened, I would do so.”

As for the rest of Lauren Giddings’s body parts, it is unlikely that they will ever be recovered. McDaniel says a dump truck picked up the contents of the dumpster where he tossed the other pieces of her body.

Stephen McDaniel’s plea agreement provides for a sentence of life imprisonment. Although McDaniel will be eligible to request parole in 2041, District Attorney David Cooke said that he “fully expect[s]” McDaniel to “spend the rest of his life behind bars.”

Our thoughts remain with the Giddings family. At least they finally have closure on their daughter’s death.

‘TRULY EVIL’: McDaniel pleads guilty to Giddings’ murder [13WMAZ]
McDaniel: “I am extremely sorry” [Macon Telegraph]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of the Lauren Giddings murder


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