In 2001 a well-loved member of the Puyallup, Washington community was brutally murdered. Dana Laskowski was a 36-year-old mother of 9-year-old triplets. She loved her life as a nanny, artist and mom. She was close with her family and was known for letting her 17-year-old niece, Amanda, stay with her. Amanda frequently ran away from her parent’s house and would hang out at Dana’s house with her friends so that Dana could keep an eye on them. Often, Dana would leave her window unlocked so that Amanda or her friends could enter and take a shower at her house.
On August 31 police responded to a welfare check and found Dana dead inside her home. Her autopsy revealed she had been strangled to death in a grisly fight for survival. Police expected the suspect to be stronger than the average man. They never anticipated they would end up arresting a young girl.
Dana’s ex-husband, Sam, had custody of the triplets that weekend. He says he took the kids camping, and was able to provide a gas receipt that corroborated his story. At the time of her death, Dana was being stalked by a man named Patrick. When police looked into this lead, he too had an alibi. A third man was in a reciprocal long-distance romantic relationship with Dana. He also had an alibi.
Struggling to find a new lead, police looked at the notebook that had been left out at Dana’s funeral, prompting her friends and family to write out their final goodbyes. In the notebook they found an entry from 34 days after Dana’s death where her niece Amanda mentions how hard that night was for her and how she has now been sober for 34 days. When she was questioned again, Amanda told investigators that one of her friends with a violent history, Blaine, had maybe murdered her aunt. However, when police looked into this friend, they not only found out he was in another state, but they found a witness who said the person who murdered Dana Laskowski was actually Amanda’s best friend, a 17-year-old girl named Emily Lauenborg. Soon police were able to find multiple witnesses who also pointed the finger at Emily. They also learned Emily’s friends sometimes called her “mutant” because she was so much stronger than she looked. When questioned, Emily had no alibi.
Police then searched Emily’s home and found her very incriminating diary.
On one page of her diary was a bucket list of things Emily wanted to do before she died. As part of that entry, Emily wrote “kill someone and get away with it”. In another entry, Emily talked about her anger at Amanda and wrote about strangling her… “just like her aunt”. A third unsettling detail police found in the search was a t-shirt that belonged to Dana. Emily had stolen the shirt from Dana and worn it to her funeral.
After the search, Amanda cooperated with the investigation and finally confessed what happened to her aunt. On the night of her murder, Amanda and Emily had gone to Dana’s house after using drugs, in search of money to buy more drugs. Emily and Dana got in a fight and when Dana asked Emily to leave, Emily started choking her. Amanda did not get involved in the fight and tried to block it out. That’s when, she told police, “She heard a crack. And she heard a gurgle.”
After Dana died, the two robbed her and left.
Emily Lauenborg was arrested and plead guilty to manslaughter. She went to prison and was released after six and a half years. She has since changed her name, moved away from Washington, married, and had children.
Because she cooperated with police and testified against Emily, Amanda did not face any charges.