Fellow law student charged with murder in death of North Laurel woman

Police in Macon, Ga., last week charged Stephen Mark McDaniel with felony murder in the death of former North Laurel resident and next-door neighbor Lauren Giddings.

McDaniel lived for three years in the same apartment building as Giddings, 27, a 2002 Atholton High School graduate, and both graduated from Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law in May. Her dismembered body was found June 30 outside the apartment building.

"We've collected over 200 pieces of information, we've interviewed many people of interest," Macon Police Chief Mike Burns said during an Aug. 3 news conference. "All the evidence that we've received back ended up linking to one person … Stephen McDaniel."

Macon police sent more than 200 pieces of evidence to an FBI lab for testing. Many of those pieces were taken from McDaniel's apartment, police said.

McDaniel had been considered a person of interest in the case by Macon police since July 1. According to the Macon Telegraph, the arrest warrant for McDaniel states that a hacksaw with traces of Giddings' DNA linked McDaniel to the crime. The Telegraph reported the saw was found outside McDaniel's apartment building and the saw's packaging was found inside his apartment.

Earlier this month, police said they found a master key to the apartment complex in McDaniel's apartment.

"We reviewed the case page by page," Burns said. "We have enough evidence to make the charge."

Macon police arrested McDaniel July 1 after he admitted to burglarizing a neighbor's apartment more than two years ago. He admitted to that burglary when police questioned him about Giddings' disappearance and death June 30.

Georgia law defines felony murder as murder perpetrated during the commission of a felony. Macon police declined to name the felony.

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