Bill Giddings, father of a slain daughter, reached Macon about 9:30 that night. Five of his relatives and a Baptist minister met him.
They crowded into the office of a police major at city hall. The major, the police chief, the district attorney and two detectives greeted Bill somberly, offering condolences, and Bill could see the stress on the tired faces.
He sat heavily on a couch in the first-floor office. He thought: Where is her body? Where is Lauren? When will they take me to her
“I thought I was there to identify her,” Bill would say later, his sad eyes fixed in an empty gaze. He is 56, owns a small company in Laurel that hauls construction debris. Remembering that trek to Georgia, the hours of numbness and confusion when he struggled to grasp what was real, he says, “I just wanted to see her.”
Yet the hesitant officials in the room “kept beating around the bush.”
Chief Mike Burns, a 37-year veteran of police work in his home town, looked at the anguished father on the sofa, wondering how to tell him the truth. “There’s no good way to do it,” the chief says now. He waited quietly while Maj. Charles Stone and the detectives gently questioned Bill about his daughter.
The night before, their department had taken a report of a missing person: Lauren Giddings, 27, a new graduate of Mercer University law school in the city. She was a bright, popular young woman with loving parents and sisters in Maryland, an aspiring public defender who had been studying for Georgia’s bar exam. She had turned up that morning, June 30, an obvious homicide victim.
Who might have wanted to hurt her? Bill could think of no one. For more than an hour, Stone and the detectives inquired into Lauren’s background, her habits, her relationships. And they heard from Bill what they would hear from many others — that Lauren had a generous spirit born of her devout Catholic faith, that she had been filled with kindness, that she had tried to find good in everyone.
She was Bill’s firstborn. Why haven’t they taken me to her
? The chief, seated at Stone’s desk, could read Bill’s puzzlement. “He knew there was something more there than we were telling him,” Burns says. And there was: “Everybody was really struggling with how to tell him what happened to his daughter and how we found her.”
Burns, 59, who has a son Lauren’s age and three adult daughters, decided, “I wanted to talk to him father to father.” He asked most of those present to leave the room.
The Rev. Craig McMahan, dean of Mercer’s Newton Chapel, stayed with Bill, as did one of Bill’s relatives, a D.C. police officer. District Attorney Greg Winters stayed, too, and watched as the chief leaned forward, his voice low and deliberate.