The following is part of a weekly series on unsolved homicides and suspected homicide cases in Fayette County and the surrounding area.
State police have working theories about what may have motivated a woman’s murder on Halloween 1993.
Laurie Lynn Caric, 32, was killed by a single shotgun blast to the chest near her apartment on Monroe Street in Hopwood. Her killer is still at large, though police have persons of interest in their sights.
“The movement in the case has been pretty steady,” said state police Trooper John F. Marshall, who oversees the cold case investigations for the Uniontown state police station.
Marshall said Caric and three men had been to a couple of bars the evening she was killed. He said Caric and the men returned to her apartment complex around 1:10 a.m. They had walked through a passageway and around a corner when someone fired a 12-gauge shotgun. Marshall said the killer fired the shot from less than 75 feet away — the length of the garage — that hit Caric in the upper left torso.
“She was the intended target,” Marshall said of the single mother of a 10-year-old boy.
Marshall said the men with Caric didn’t see anything as the killer fled. Marshall said the men complied with police as they were interviewed. Shotgun blast residue was taken off their clothing as evidence, and their statements taken to aid the investigation.
“They saw a figure fleeing — they didn’t expect it,” he said.
Marshall said Caric was able to make it to her apartment before she collapsed and died.
Police arrived at the scene within minutes, Marshall said, and scoured the area looking for suspects and gathering evidence. They discovered a spent shotgun shell lying in the grass near the garage where the crime took place. Marshall said numerous people were interviewed, because police theorized that the man who killed Caric may have been a past boyfriend or acquaintance.
Marshall said several suspects were developed. Some have been eliminated and some haven’t.
“From the beginning, once they started conducting the investigation, it sort of fell in the lines of one of her past boyfriends or acquaintances developed a crush or was stalking her,” he said.
And then there is Marshall’s keen eye for finding the smaller details of the case — a skill they don’t necessarily teach at the police academy. Marshall noted the killer had to know quite a bit about Caric before pulling the trigger. He said the murderer had to know where she lived and when she would be coming and going.
Due to the public nature of where Caric was shot, someone wouldn’t necessarily be standing there all evening in an apartment complex holding a shotgun without fear of being noticed — even if it was Halloween. No, Marshall deduced, the killer had to have known in advance where Caric had been that night and when she would be returning — roughly 1 a.m. That means the killer may have been someone Caric knew or had been around at some point that evening.
And then there was planning involved in the murder. Marshall said the murder was more or less conducted as an ambush. As Caric and her friends were walking single file through a passageway to get to her apartment, someone came up from behind a corner of the garage and fired a shot.
“The bad guy is waiting for them to come through — what does that tell you?” Marshall said. “Not only is he familiar with this, he knows they’re there. I mean, is he waiting there? Did he follow them? Did he get there first? He knows they are coming down through this hallway. He’s right there, waiting.”
Years after Caric’s autopsy was conducted, police are still interviewing people associated with the case and developing leads in this whodunnit.
Marshall said work on the case has been steady, and he hopes to close the case as leads develop.