Laurie Wasserman Dann lived a charmed life. Money, men, educational + career opportunities, luxury cars and clothes, constant vacations, a polished and respectable suburban existence- and she threw it all away, to shoot up an elementary school.
Plagued by severe mental illness for years; Laurie lived in a state of perpetual psychological torment. No amount of expensive psychiatry and medication could help her. She would only be appeased by blood and chaos, eventually ending her own life after a final disturbing spree of violence.
Poor Little Rich Girl
She was born in Chicago on October 18, 1957 to Norman “Norm” Wasserman and housewife Edith Joy, the descendants of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Her father Norm was a wealthy accountant with a net worth of $4 million. Adjusted for inflation, that is equivalent to $11 million today.
Laurie grew up a sheltered child in the suburbs of Northern Chicago. Her parents were distant and emotionally cold, choosing instead to show their affection by taking her and brother Mark on impromptu trips to Disneyland, Florida and Hawaii, and buying costly gifts.
Laurie claimed that when she was hurt or ill as a child, her mother often ignored her. Edith did not work, and was completely dependent on her husband, afraid to even drive on her own.
Laurie would go on to imitate her mother’s helpless and clingy attachment to her husband in her own relationships.
Their home was kept immaculately clean. At the age of 5, Laurie already had obsessions with “good” and “bad” numbers, and displayed OCD symptoms. There was also a strong genetic predisposition for mental illness, as Norm’s grandma and Edith’s mother had suffered from clinical depression.
Around the age of 12, Laurie was placed in special help classes for the learning-disabled. Laurie was an unattractive and awkward child, and her peers said she had a “spaced out” look to her.
A classmate recounted how:
”She was very, very quiet, and she was very strange because you`d walk down the hall and say `Hi` and she wouldn`t say anything. It didn`t seem she had many friends in junior high.”
As a teen, her parents paid for an otoplasty procedure (a cosmetic surgery to reduce large ears), and a rhinoplasty for her big nose. These surgeries, combined with a growth spurt which increased her breast size, suddenly turned the shy and mousy Laurie Wasserman into a beautiful young woman.
Her introduction to the opposite sex was ruthless: the first boy who asked Laurie out went on to break up with her two months later because he was embarrassed to be seen with her.
Laurie was enraged but learned a valuable lesson: she switched to a new high school and began to wear tight-fitting designer clothes to emphasize her petite yet top-heavy 5’3, 100 lbs build.
While she was popular with boys, girls hated her, even though she bought popular girls gifts of jewelry and candy. One female classmate recalled how she ”perceived a paranoia when girls were around. She always had a boyfriend and was really clingy, draped around him. That really struck me, that she was somehow frightened and had a real unhealthy attachment to boys.”
Perhaps they were jealous?
In 1974, a football player named Rob Heidelberger began dating Laurie. During her shifts at K-Mart, Laurie would not scan Rob’s purchases, and instead passed him the items for free.
Rob described their high school romance as such:
”I had a LeMans convertible, and we would drive around after school, listening to Beach Boys tapes. We would go over to her house and listen to the radio. I can`t remember that she had any friends of her own.”
The couple broke up after only one month, following a mediocre prom date.
Ironically, Laurie was supposed to have been in a relationship with another boy at the time. She had developed a cruel streak. Laurie had one of her lovers call the boyfriend that she was now tired of, and he relayed this brutal message:
“You should know that I’ve been going out with Laurie. We’ve been having a great time together, including sex. She really likes it from me. She thinks I’m great. And those times when you dropped her off for work or the country club? Well, she called me up and I came to get her and we went out.”
After high school, Laurie began her never-ending odyssey of failed studies: she drifted between universities in Iowa, Arizona, and Wisconsin; changing majors constantly from teaching to home economics to psychology, etc.
Her grades were weak, but she told friends she was only at college to find a rich husband anyways. She joined and was ejected from a sorority, and dated dozens of men simultaneously.
In 1979, Laurie found love with a pre-med student named Stephen Witt, and planned to marry him. Unfortunately for her, he wanted to see other women. Stephen quickly grew fed up with Laurie’s clinginess, but kept her around to cook, clean and care for him while he focused on studying.
Once he was done his courses, Stephen dumped Laurie for being too possessive. Laurie constantly phoned him whilst crying and begging for another chance, but he refused. She was left heartbroken.
At Long Last Love
Since she had failed in her quest to find a husband, Laurie gave up on university and went back home to Chicago, finding work at a Jewish country club as a cocktail waitress.
There, she would meet 25-year old Russell Dann, a cocky sales exec who worked at his father’s insurance company. Like Laurie, he was riding on daddy’s gravy train of plentiful cash.
She fell for him immediately. He was short and boyish and resembled the Monkees lead singer Davy Jones, who she had a crush on.
Unlike shy, withdrawn Laurie; Russell was extroverted, charismatic, and enterprising.
Laurie lied to him that she was a graduate in hospital administration, feigning success in order to impress. Nine months after they began dating, the couple were engaged.
Laurie told a friend that “Russ is the first person who gave me a lot of warmth and a lot of love. I don’t even know how to deal with it.”
Poor Russell had no idea what he was getting into.
The couple married in September of 1982, in a traditional Jewish ceremony. Laurie didn’t have many friends to invite to the wedding, so they kept the guest list short. Russell’s friends and family constantly criticized her for being “weird” and introverted.
After a tranquil honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands, Laurie regressed into certain ritualistic OCD behaviours.
She refused to step on sidewalk cracks, never put lids back onto items, hoarded large piles of dirty clothes, stopped driving to tap her feet on pavement, and did not let Russell go to work until she touched the sofa.
When asked why, she simply said “something bad will happen if I don’t.” She would not step on certain rugs, tiptoeing around them instead, and rode bicycles with only one hand, almost causing her to fall off a bridge.
Russell realized Laurie was incapable of remaining employed. She was fired from dozens of jobs for incompetence, and often lied on her resume. Eventually, she gave up trying to work altogether.
She then spent her days in bed, watching TV until Russell came home. She was unable to handle even basic tasks. When Russell’s sister asked Laurie to help babysit her children, Laurie pretended she got into a car accident to avoid it.
When guests came over, Laurie was a ditz; serving them rotting potatoes and frozen vegetables, complimented by dying flowers.
After a year and a half of a troubled marriage, Russell insisted that Laurie see a psychiatrist. The shrink prescribed Thioridazine, a heavy-duty tranquilizer used to treat schizophrenia and psychosis. After 3 appointments, Laurie stopped showing up.
The psychiatrist was concerned, and wrote Laurie a letter telling her she desperately needed to continue receiving professional help.
An alarmed Russell asked Laurie’s dad to talk to her, but Norm told him “that there’s really not that much of a problem here. It’s a nonissue. I don’t believe in psychiatry. I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.” And that was that.
Two years into their relationship, Russell bought the couple a brand new suburban home. Laurie trashed it almost immediately, scattering her makeup in the microwave, putting food out to rot, leaving cabinet doors open, canned food in the dishwasher, money in the freezer.
When confronted, she would be flippant; surprised that anyone would even question her.
A depressed Russell lamented to his friends about how Laurie was “not happy. She’s not self-sufficient. She doesn’t do anything all day long. She has no life. Laurie is just somebody who needs to be taken care of, and I know I have to take care of her forever.”
She was becoming a burden to him.
By the time Russell would arrive home from work at 6 pm, Laurie was barely awake, still dressed in a sweatsuit or pajamas. The house was usually filthy, as Laurie never cleaned, and Russell would have to do it all himself. He felt like she was more of a lazy child than a wife.
She begged him not to divorce her:
“Don’t leave. You’re the only person who ever cared for me. Even after all the shit I put you through, you were still a pal. We have a great house in the suburbs and we belong to a country club. Where would I go if I lost you?”
Once Laurie realized that Russell was serious, she tried to make efforts to improve. She attempted to do laundry, but ended up putting soggy, wet clothes back in the drawers, causing mold to grow on them.
She also became hypersexual, wrongly believing that sex could cure their marital problems. Laurie had odd fetishes: she admitted to fantasizing about dogs giving her head, and confessed to getting off in public pools, in the presence of her family!
Russell was just about done. He had encouraged Laurie to go back to therapy, but she wasn’t making any progress. He did, however, feel guilty, so he stayed with her on her 28th birthday, and bought her a flower bouquet and pink sweatsuit.
Laurie wore the sweatsuit for weeks, believing Russell wouldn’t leave her if she kept it on, and hauled the flowers around even after they died.
A Messy Divorce
In 1985, near their third anniversary, Russell told Laurie that they had to separate. She was an emotional wreck, sobbing because her parents were on vacation in Florida, unwilling to return home to console her.
Russell had to phone Norm and call him a “son of a bitch” to convince him to come back and care for his distraught daughter.
Laurie went home to live with her parents during the separation. She tried to convince Russell she was a functional human being, that she would change for the better.
Privately, she told friends that Russell would not get away with doing this to her, and that she would make him suffer.
Laurie went full psycho: threatening Russell that she would get pregnant to force her to stay with him. When he informed her that always pulled out, she told him she would just get a syringe and inject his semen.
They began having screaming fights, and police were often called to their residence.
Around this time, Laurie started an annoying and disturbing habit: she would phone Russell, his family, and friends repeatedly, often hundreds of times a day, only to hang up.
At one point, she was even arrested after the calls were traced back to her, but police released and never charged her.
The divorce dragged on for months, turning ugly fast. Laurie, a habitual liar, was telling everyone that Russell was physically attacking and raping her.
Once, like a scene from a horror film, Russell found Laurie in his closet, sitting in a pile of birdseed, listening in on his phone conversations. She became a stalker, intercepting and reading his mail.
She filed a false police report, claiming Russell had burglarized her home. When he asked her why, she told him:
“I don’t have any reason to go on living. And if I go, you’re coming with me. If I can’t have you, nobody can. That’s true love.”
At this time, she bought a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum gun. Police asked Laurie’s parents to confiscate her gun, but they vehemently refused to do so. Norm blamed Russell for “ruining” his daughter.
Laurie called up her college ex Stephen Witt, now married and a doctor in New York.
She told him that she had his child, and had been raising it alone for years, nearly causing Stephen and his wife to break up.
When Stephen found out Laurie was lying, she phoned his office and told his coworkers that he raped her in an emergency room.
Stephen’s wife said that Laurie’s voice over the phone ”sounded like the Wicked Witch of the West.” She would soon receive several death threats from Laurie, directed towards her and their children.
In between bouts of psycho bitch behaviour, there were attempts at normalcy. Laurie dated a neighbour, and often baked cookies and pies for his mother.
The mother said Laurie seemed a lonely and sympathetic individual, who rarely laughed or smiled, but had a certain “modesty of the soul. She was naive, forlorn and lost, and wanted love and understanding and someone to talk to”
In the summer of 1986, Russell started dating a rich $100 million net worth blonde heiress. Laurie did not take this well. Somebody had to pay.
On Sept. 30, Russell was awoken in his bed by sharp pain in his chest. He had been stabbed with an ice pick!
The wound was an inch deep, and partially deflated his left lung. He was convinced Laurie was the perpetrator, but police claimed there was not enough evidence to prosecute her.
Bizarrely, Russell failed a lie detector test when questioned on the stabbing, and he said this was because police made him nervous. Indeed, the police on the case disliked Russell and thought him an entitled yuppie type.
Russell said of the incident:
“She actually told me she did it. I was talking to her on my car phone, and I said to her, I said: `Laurie, I mean, you know it`s one thing to hate me for the divorce, whatever. I mean, when you go to this extent, I mean, you need help.”
Laurie’s family and remaining friends were tired of her. Her parents still supported her financially, but were disappointed by the dissolution of her marriage and her ensuing bad behaviour. She felt unloved and unwanted, so she turned to the easiest vocation she could find: babysitting.
Technically, she didn’t even have to work. As a part of the divorce settlement, she received over $125k from Russell, as well as a $1250 monthly stipend for 36 months. But her life was empty, and she felt aimless.
Back to School
In 1987, Laurie moved into an apartment on the campus of Northwestern University in Illinois, despite the fact that she wasn’t even enrolled in any classes. It was a sort of regression into a better time, as if she were trying to relive her youth. But she was too far gone.
Laurie’s strange behaviour frightened her roommate. She refused to touch any doors or metal surfaces, using her sleeves or rubber gloves to open them instead.
She had extremely poor hygiene, and once followed one of the roommate’s friends into the bathroom to watch him pee, trying to shake his hand after he zipped up.
She left her dead goldfish in its bowl to rot.
Laurie spent her days riding elevators up and down, and watching TV static or shows without sound.
She stuffed public sofa cushions and carpets with fish bones and rotting raw meat that dripped red with blood, and threw spaghetti in the hallways.
She broke into the apartment of a man she was dating, in order to pee on his carpet.
When they went to a zoo together, the normally indifferent Laurie became sexually excited at the smell of elephant urine. What was happening to her brain?
The scared roommate began sleeping with a bat or knife at his bed.
Babysitter from Hell
After tenants complained about Laurie’s creepy behaviour, she was promptly evicted, much to the dismay of her exasperated father.
In November of 1987, Laurie bought a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson Terrier revolver. Despite the fact that their daughter was clearly deranged, her parents allowed her to possess guns.
Laurie had returned home, only to cause more aggravation by wreaking havoc via babysitting.
She cut open a client’s furniture, causing $1700 worth of damages. When police questioned her, Laurie cried and accused Russell of doing it to frame her. They let her go.
It wouldn’t end there: she would steal food, shoes, pills, perfume- you name it. She wrote on walls with crayons, and wrecked furniture.
People who hired her said she wore thick coats even in the summer, and had awful B.O. A client said of Laurie:
“‘She had an almost childlike quality about her. But she had a great uneasiness with adults. She also had body odor like a longshoreman.”
She let dogs inside a client’s home, and stood by while they tore the place up. Laurie’s father paid the family off to thwart a police complaint.
Norm and Edith sent Laurie back to therapy, as her behaviour was getting too wild for them to handle.
The shrink prescribed Anaxfraxil/Clomipramine, an antidepressant drug used to treat OCD. One of the many side effects of this medication is increased suicidal ideation, as well as the symptoms listed below:
Her exhausted parents sent Laurie to live in student housing in the college town of Madison, Wisconsin. She lived by the University Hospital, to be close to her psychiatrist, Dr. William Greist.
When he administered an OCD questionnaire, Laurie responded “no” to questions asking whether she fantasized about homicide and hurting others.
Dr. Greist prescribed more Clomipramine, as well as Lithium, and gave her lists of tasks to complete which were supposed to assuage her OCD.
Just when she started to improve, Laurie overdosed on her medication. She vomited continuously for 12 hours until her parents took her to the hospital.
That Christmas, she bought her last gun: a .22 caliber semiautomatic Beretta.
Laurie was losing it. Her psychiatrist was alarmed when he discovered she had stuffed a cloth-covered pencil into her ear, and then lit it on fire, in order to remove earwax. She had to be prescribed antibiotics to treat the resulting infection.
Back to School Pt. 2
You would think that after the Northwestern debacle, Laurie’s parents would be more reticent about placing her in collegiate environments. Well, that wasn’t so!
Instead, she moved right into the heart of the University of Wisconsin, in one of the most expensive residences. Purchased courtesy of Norman, of course.
Her new roommate quickly began to notice Laurie’s eccentricities. She had no friends, she didn’t bathe, and her room smelled like urine.
On her shelves were dildoes and Penthouse magazines. Laurie was obsessed with sex: when she and Russell were together, they had invested money in softcore porn films.
Laurie continued her elevator riding obsession, which earned her the moniker “Psycho Elevator Lady.”
She hogged the lobby room TV, and told others it was hers when they tried to touch the remote, obsessively switching back and forth from channels 7 to 21 over and over again.
She entered the cafeteria in fuzzy pajamas, and ate only with gloves on, taking massive quantities that caused her weight to balloon to an extra 50 lbs. It was as if she were ravaged by an insatiable hunger.
Soon, Laurie was bulimic, vomiting loudly after eating, to the point where other students became concerned.
Creepily, a student adviser found Laurie in a stairwell, stark naked and slamming doors repeatedly. She also set fires on campus, and broke her roommate’s stereo and computer.
The only male relationship Laurie acquired in this period was a friends with benefits situation, with an attractive but odd sophomore who had managed to bang her after offering her a back massage.
He claimed that although she had bad hygiene, he didn’t really care, as his laycount that year was supposedly 20. Sounds legit.
However, this guy had never been with a girl like Laurie before: She sliced up her FWB’s roommate’s clothing and textbooks when they were outside during a fire alarm drill, causing $650 worth of damages.
Laurie started plotting her final rampage as early as March of 1988.
It was here that her crank phone calls escalated into actual verbal death threats. She would call up Russell’s sister Susan and laughingly tell her “I’m a psychopath,” mocking her with chants like ”Susie, Susie, Susie, you are going to die. Your children are going to die. Goodbye.”
Laurie then stole arsenic and lead from her psychiatrist’s hospital lab, as well as books on poison from the local library.
That month, Laurie was arrested for shoplifting 4 wigs, 2 hairclips, white pants, and a ring from JC Penney. She ran from the police, and when caught, she tried to give them a fake name.
Following her release, she skipped town to avoid her community service sentence.
In April, her distraught roommate left, and Laurie had her own lonely dorm to herself.
Laurie also stopped attending therapy, and her alarmed parents tried hard to convince her to allow herself to be hospitalized. She refused, and the stage was set for a horrific incident.
Due to the fact that she was now phoning up her enemies and threatening to actually kill them, the FBI finally intervened. They sought to seek an indictment against Laurie, but were too late.
She had already gone home to visit her parents for summer break.
Something incredibly disturbing had happened before Laurie left the campus. The janitor found her curled up on the floor of a garbage room, inside of a plastic bag, sweating profusely.
When he asked her what she was doing there, she said she was just looking for something and dashed away.
The frightened man called up his colleagues, who then went into her disgustingly horrific dorm room.
Her room was full of human waste, but an oblivious Laurie was sleeping nude on her mattress. She somehow managed to convince police she was alright, and then made her escape back home to Chicago via Greyhound bus.
Like the buffoons they were, police and FBI missed their last chances to stop Laurie’s killing spree.
When they searched her vacated room, they found hell on earth.
There was a news clipping about a man with OCD who shot himself in the head as a “cure.” There was an article about a mentally ill woman who pretended she was being stalked in order to gain sympathy. There were stolen items from Russell’s home.
Creepiest of all, there were illegible yet telltale rants scrawled by Laurie on scattered paper:
“ hate pain… get through to you… abuse , spit , hurt , spat… why gun . question of safety… bag lady , scum paraplegic… Threw away wedding tape terrified I was helpless . I’ll deny it . suffer forever . Harm children to pay a bill .”
May 20, 1988: the day where all the threads unraveled.
Laurie awoke at 5 am, and prepared arsenic-filled rice krispie treats, popcorn and juice packets. She was ready to harm the people who she felt had made her suffer.
It was sunny outside, and she was wearing a U of Arizona Medical Dept. t-shirt with a skeleton on it, paired with white bermuda shorts.
Stage 1: Poison
She then drove across town to deliver the tainted snacks to the homes of her enemies.
Ex-employers, babysitting clients. former in-laws, ex-friends, her psychiatrists, hated neighbours, college fraternities, ex-boyfriends, and Russell Dann- dozens of people received poisoned goods, as they were all on her kill list.
Few actually consumed the strange, foul-smelling packets of leaking food and juice, which were clumsily injected with poison via syringe. Her most potent victim was a dog, who vomited blood yet survived after consuming the tainted snacks.
Stage 2: Explosives
After this, she arrived at the home of the Rushe family, to babysit their two sons and take them to a carnival as she had promised.
It is bizarre that despite all her sick behaviour, many of her babysitting clients remained unaware and still hired her! Some think the fact that the Rushe family was moving cross-country triggered Laurie, since she took it as a betrayal.
Instead of taking the kids to a carnival, she instead drove to Ravinia Elementary School, and left a homemade bomb (created with stolen flammable chemicals) by the entryway.
Her intention was to kill Russell Dann’s nephews. She set fire to the bomb and ran away, but before it could detonate, a teacher and his students noticed the fire and called the cops.
Returning to the car, Laurie gave the boys poisoned milk in a Mickey Mouse cup. It tasted gross, so the children spit the liquid out and refused to drink more.
Laurie’s next target was a Jewish daycare center which Russell’s niece attended. She kept trying to enter the building with a gasoline can, but was escorted outside each time by puzzled teachers.
Stage 3: Arson
After that failure, she took the Rushe children home. While they were in the basement with their mother, Laurie started a fire upstairs.
The flames quickly spread and trapped the family, but heroic mother Marian Rushe managed to smash the tiny basement windows open. She used her hands to clear the broken shards of glass, badly cutting herself in the process.
She saved her two boys first, then herself.
Bloody and confused, Marian wondered if Laurie was alright. She could not believe her shy babysitter was capable of something like this, and would only find out later that it was Laurie who started the fire.
Stage 4: Firearms
Though her actions up to this point were (thankfully) incompetent, she would finally manage to harm the victims at her next target: Hubbard Woods Elementary school.
She arrived at around 10:30 AM, armed with three guns, which were tucked into her shorts. There were around 200 kids attending school that day.
Laurie first went to the boys’ bathroom, and a teacher saw her exiting and said “hello.” Laurie ignored the greeting and walked on.
She entered classroom #7, where teacher Amy Moses was giving the children a bicycle safety test.
Amy was a small woman, barely grazing 5 ft and weighing about 110 lbs. At this point, Laurie was very heavy, pushing 160 lbs. There was no way Amy would be able to fight Laurie off.
When Amy asked if she could assist Laurie in anything, she merely replied with a chilling “no.” Amy said that Laurie looked “so lifeless. Her face was so hard.”
Amy assumed that Laurie was a visiting student teacher, so she tried to engage her in conversation. Laurie stayed cold and blank, probably strategizing her next move, wondering what to do.
There was still time to call it off and go home, still time to save her conscience.
Suddenly, Laurie stood up from the desk she was seated at, and stormed into the hallway, like a woman possessed.
Laurie saw a 6- year old boy drinking at a water fountain, and pulled him into the bathroom. She fired a hesitant shot, but accidentally hit the tile wall. She shot again, this time hitting the boy in his chest.
Turning around to leave, she found that two boys had witnessed her crime. She aimed to shoot, but the gun jammed, and they ran away and informed a teacher.
The poor wounded boy asked the teacher if he was going to die.
Galvanized, Laurie returned to classroom #7. She pointed her gun at Amy and ordered the teacher to round her students into a corner.
Amy attempted to wrestle the gun away, but Laurie overpowered her. As she pulled another gun out of her shorts, Amy noticed that Laurie wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Laurie then walked up to five scared children, and shot them wordlessly, one after the other. The scene was horrific. Wounded children lay crying on the floor, covered in blood.
Here, Laurie killed her only victim: 8- year old Nicholas Corwin. The rest were left with terrible injuries that took months to recover from, but with mental scars that would last forever.
Fugitive on the Run
After injuring 6 children and killing 1 of them, Laurie escaped to her car. She panicked at the sight of police and accidentally drove into a dead end suburban street. She removed her blood-stained shorts, covering herself with a flimsy blue garbage bag as replacement.
Armed with two guns (she had thrown the heavy Magnum away after it jammed), Laurie ran through random people’s backyards in hysterics.
After running through dense forest brush, she came to 2 Kent Road, an 8 bedroom mansion which belonged to the well-off Andrew family.
She burst into the unlocked kitchen, and found 50- year old Ruth Ann and her 20- year old son Philip, an athletic runner and swimmer. Laurie flashed her gun at them, and took the family hostage.
When they asked her why, she lied that she had shot a man who had raped her, and had run away because she was scared of police.
A sympathetic Phil tried to offer a clearly upset Laurie some water and a pair of pants. She rejected the pants, but took the drink.
The concerned family encouraged Laurie to call her mother, which she did, explaining:
“Mom. I’ve done something terrible. People won’t understand. I’m going to have to kill myself. These are nice people here, I don’t want to hurt them.”
Phil leaned over to console Laurie, who pulled away and warned him not to touch her. She did, however, allow Phil to speak to her mother.
When he got Edith on the phone, Phil was shocked at how emotionless and unsurprised she was, asking him only to return her daughter home safely.
Edith claimed that she could not come pick Laurie up, as she didn’t have a car. Most likely, Edith was too afraid to handle the situation herself, without her husband present.
Laurie apologized to her mother, and told her goodbye and hung up.
Ruth Ann offered Laurie a pair of yellow sweatpants, which she finally accepted. As she put them on, Phil was surprised that Laurie exposed herself in full view of everyone, not even bothering to cover her nakedness.
As she changed, Laurie left her two guns on the counter top.
A sneaky Phil managed to grab the .22 Beretta, but Laurie reached for the .32 S&W (the one she shot the children with) and demanded he return it back. Phil kept but disarmed the gun to dissuade her wrath.
Laurie finally allowed mother Ruth Ann to leave. As soon as she was outside, she informed police of the hostage situation inside her home.
Inside, Phil tried to plot his escape, but Laurie shot him without warning, and then ran upstairs to the second floor. He was hit in the chest, and he sunk behind the pantry for cover.
The bullet was lodged inside Phil’s lungs, right beside his heart, but he escaped the house and survived the harrowing ordeal, eventually going on to become an FBI agent in the future.
Inside the home, Laurie had holed herself up inside the daughters’ rooms. She was at the end of her life. The room was filled with toys and girly objects, perhaps providing some comfort to her.
The crime scene outside would rage on until 7 PM. At this point, the police had phoned Laurie’s parents and requested that they come assist in procuring their daughter from the house.
Ex-husband Russell Dann also showed up on the scene after going through a root canal at his dentist that morning. He claimed to have felt vindicated, as no one had believed him when he warned them that Laurie was violent and unstable.
An officer on the scene who had mishandled the stabbing case even sobbed and apologized to Russell.
When Norman arrived at the standoff, he was hysterical and in disbelief. He cried:
“She’s my little girl. And they’re treating her like a wild animal. Look at these people with army outfits and guns. All they want to do is kill her.
If this is true, if this is Laurie and she did these things, my life is over.”
Norman demanded that police allow him to go inside the house to get Laurie, but they refused, saying it was too dangerous.
Cops humiliatingly tied a dog leash around Norman’s waist to keep him under their control. Via speakerphone, Norm begged his daughter to come out of the house and talk to him, but there was no response.
While Norm lamented the situation, Edith told police that considering the severity of her crimes, Laurie would now be better off dead.
After nearly 7 hours of this awful spectacle, police finally stormed the house.
They found Laurie in the girls’ bedroom, face down in a pool of blood. She had shot herself in the mouth, severing her brain stem. Her eyes were open, and her tongue stuck out from between clenched teeth.
Laurie Wasserman Dann was dead, committing suicide at age 30.
When police informed her parents, Norm was devastated, sobbing and apologizing for his daughter’s actions continuously. Edith seemed eerily… relieved.
The agonized couple went home, police in tow. When police tried to search Laurie’s room, Norm grew enraged, demanding they leave immediately.
Once the police left, the Wassermans threw away most of the evidence. Norm’s compulsion to protect his daughter followed him even after her death. He cried and cried, mourning the loss of his “baby,” wondering how she could do something so evil.
For the most part, Laurie’s rampage had failed. She had attempted to kill hundreds of people across the city by distributing poisoned food to “enemies,” planting homemade bombs at schools, committing arson, and shooting up an elementary school.
She had also intended to kill her ex-husband and those close to him.
In the end, Laurie killed only one child, and herself.
Mother Linda Corwin made a public statement on her son Nicky’s death, which highlighted a disturbing coincidence:
“Hubbard Woods School had returned all of Nicky’s classroom projects, including several storybooks he had written and drawn pictures for.
Two creations seemed chillingly prescient— the first was a lengthy talking-animal story he titled ‘Randolph’s Adventure,’ in which the villain, a dog named Dirty Dan, shoots his victims while at play, killing a character named Mickey.
The second was a drawing of his mother, standing alone, with a balloon caption coming from her mouth reading, ‘Where is my son?”
In the wake of her shooting spree, victims sued Laurie’s parents for allowing their unstable daughter to own firearms, and pushed for stricter gun laws.
Ironically, they forgot that she had attempted to utilize poison, fire and bombs as murder weapons as well.
Some even pushed for the involuntary institutionalization of mentally ill people suspected of being dangerous.
Police and FBI were criticized for their incompetence and for not taking Laurie seriously as a threat to society, despite the fact that Russell Dann had constantly warned authorities about his crazy ex-wife for years.
Laurie Wasserman Dann was buried in an unmarked grave at Shalom Memorial Park, in a small ceremony featuring her parents and a few relatives. Grave diggers were told not to disclose her burial location to anyone.
If you actually read all this, you are probably wondering what the fuck was going on in mind of Laurie Dann.
Hers was a long, unending tale of mental suffering: what haunts me most were her obsessions with raw meat and riding elevators, which seem to evoke the similarly creepy case of Elisa Lam.
Laurie obviously suffered from untreated paranoid schizophrenia, yet her parents were in denial of this, choosing instead to treat the issue as just a mild embarrassment for their family. They vacationed in Florida while dumping their daughter onto psychiatrists in other states, hoping for a miracle cure in their absence.
Rather than lightly requesting Laurie to hospitalize herself, her parents should have done so against her will, instead of encouraging her to live alone when she was no longer even capable of performing the most basic daily tasks. Not only this, but allowing their unhinged daughter to own three guns? It was a recipe for disaster.
Her ex-husband Russell was cold, more interested in building his own life than helping his mentally ill wife. Everybody Laurie knew deemed her a “weirdo” after awhile and abandoned her. Nobody wanted to be responsible for such a frighteningly troubled woman.
There was something terrible happening in her mind that nobody understood. And yet, how can one sympathize with a child killer? Her actions were sick beyond belief.
To her father, she remained his shy, misunderstood, tragic little girl. But to the rest of the world, Laurie Dann is a symbol of mental decay and absolute terror.
I leave you with the final heartbreaking letters Norm sent Laurie in April, a month before her rampage, begging her to get professional help and to heal from her mental illness: