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Molena farm may be searched for remains

A Molena farm may be searched for human remains as part of a $5 million wrongful death lawsuit filed June 17 in Macon seeking closure after the 2011 murder of Mercer University graduate student Lauren Giddings. The accused killer, 27-year-old Stephen McDaniel, visited his grandfathers farm along the Flint River the week before the murder occurred. The Dripping Rock Road property was never searched by authorities for evidence in the murder case and the property is now owned by McDaniel’s uncle Paul Browning. Giddings’ torso was found outside the Macon apartment complex where she and McDaniel lived as neighbors. The rest of her remains were never found. The lawsuit was filed by the parents of Giddings and requests in part that a federal judge allow a search of the Pike County farmland for remains of their daughter. McDaniel’s lawyer said he does not object to the search of the farm property, “provided the search is done by privately retained experts who have no affiliation with the defendant’s current criminal case.’ According to the Sept. 5 court order, McDaniel reserves the right to object to the search if it’s not ‘reasonable as to the time, duration and scope.’ A month after she was killed, McDaniel was charged with murder. He remains in jail with a $850,000 bond. Pretrial hearings are set to start Monday, Sept. 16 in Bibb County Superior Court. Prosecutors decided in February not to pursue the death penalty in the criminal case. In the wrongful death lawsuit, the girl’s father, Billy Giddings and his wife Karen, claim McDaniel stole pictures from their daughter’s apartment, then later dismembered her and painted over the blood stains on her apartment walls. In an interview with The Telegraph, he said the wrongful death lawsuit is less about the money and more about finding out information about her death. ”It’s just pretty frustrating for us not to get any answers,” he said. “And it’s been two years. We can’t get over not finding the rest of her.” Since the murder investigation began, members of the Giddings family have requested a search at the 63-acre tract at 791 Dripping Rock Road where McDaniel’s maternal grandfather, the late Hollis Browning, lived until his recent death. The Giddings’ lawsuit claims McDaniel traveled to the Pike County farmland the weekend before Giddings was killed to look ‘for locations where he could scatter dismembered body parts through the woods.’ Mentioned in the wrongful death lawsuit are claims that McDaniel’s roommate said in 2007 that McDaniel often spoke of the “perfect murder” and how he would dismember his victim and “scatter the parts through the woods so that no one would ever find them.”

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