Murder Charge Draws Local Reaction

Former high-school classmates remember Stephen Mark McDaniel, who is charged with murder of Lauren Giddings in Macon.

The news of the former Parkview High School graduate being charged with a gruesome murder in Macon, drew some mixed responses to those who went to school and church with him in Lilburn.

Stephen Mark McDaniel, 25, who is , was described as “quiet,” “kind of socially awkward” and “weird” by former classmates.

McDaniel, a 2004 Parkview graduate, had been in the Bibb County jail for the past month on unrelated burglary charges, according to jail records, before he was served a murder warrant Tuesday night for the death of Giddings, his next-door neighbor at a Macon apartment. Giddings had been reported missing June 25. On June 30, police found her torso wrapped in plastic in a garbage bin near the apartments.

James Yount, a Parkview grad who attended services at Mountain Park First Baptist Church with McDaniel, isn't sure if McDaniel fits the profile of a murderer.

"He doesn't seem like he was that out there,” Yount said, “but you never know." 

Yount said he remembers that McDaniel attended church often and that he randomly scratched people with his long fingernails. 

"He was well-known for scratching people at the church," Yount said. "He was a very, very interesting fellow. He wasn't super anti-social, but he was kind of socially awkward."

Megan Mitchell, also a 2004 Parkview grad, described McDaniel as being quiet, and having lunch with only two or three friends. But, she recalled, he was smart.

"He was always in my gifted classes, and did well," she said. "He had his quirks, but I'd say just more quiet than socially awkward. He wasn't very social at all."

Mitchell said because they never really talked, she can't really form an opinion on if she believes he's guilty or not.

"It's always hard to believe that someone you know could be involved with something like this, even someone you don't know very well," she said. "I just don't know enough about him to tell."

Others aren’t sure, too.

Nick Porter, a Parkview graduate who had Latin class with McDaniel, recalled him as being a "freak with crazy eyes" in high school.

"If he got mad at you, he would hiss at you," said Porter. "I even tried talking to him, and it would be OK for a few minutes, but then it would just get weird." 

Another Latin class peer, Alex Hodgson, also remembered McDaniel as being odd. "He had really long fingernails and wore biker gloves," Hodgson said, adding that McDaniel had to cut the glove tips off for his nails.  

Hodgson and Porter said they both remembered McDaniel carrying a metal briefcase around Parkview. They said it contained a fantasy novel McDaniel was writing, which he claimed would "rival 'Lord of the Rings.'"

"He even made up his own elfish language," added Porter.

Both said they would not be surprised if McDaniel was responsible for Giddings’ death even after seeing his emotional June 30 interview with Macon television station WMAC.


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