Some relief came for Lauren Giddings family as a suspect was named in their daughters murder. On Wednesday, Macon Police Chief Mike Burns and Bibb County District Attorney Greg Winters held a news conference to talk about the latest in this investigation, a day after Stephen McDaniel was charged with felony murder. McDaniel is no longer a person of interest, but a suspect in the murder of Lauren Giddings.
"Just because we made an arrest in the investigation, doesn't mean it's over. We'll keep investigating until the day it goes to trial," said Chief Mike Burns, Macon Police.
Burns is confident they've found their killer after five weeks of searching.
It was a brief meeting between the Bibb County Magistrate and 25-year-old McDaniel Tuesday as he appeared expressionless.
"We had to eliminate all our persons of interest; as we checked their alibis, they were eliminated one by one," explained Burns.
Police have searched more than 200 pieces of evidence, most of which was found at the Barristers Hall apartment complex on Georgia Ave. in downtown Macon. Chief Burns says all of that evidence led them to one person, McDaniel.
Law enforcement remained tight-lipped throughout the investigation, but say it was by design.
"It was out of respect for Lauren's memory and to protect the integrity of our investigation," said Jamie Gaudet, Public Information Officer, Macon Police.
The department isn't giving in yet. Police won't comment on the evidence they have, whether a motive has been confirmed, or if we can expect more arrests in this case.
"Our concern at this point is also for the family--to find remains of her body--that's obviously something we would like," expressed Gregg Winters, Bibb County District Attorney.
The 27-year-old's family is relieved to know, the person who may be responsible for their real life nightmare is off the streets.
"It's just a step toward some sort of closure and it's not the end in any means, but it just feels right," said Kaitlyn Wheeler, Lauren's sister.
"We have such mixed emotion because of who it is being a classmate of hers and living near her just makes it even more horrific," said Karen Giddings, Lauren's mother.
Even after weeks of knowing her daughter won't be coming back, Lauren's mom deals with feelings of disbelief every passing day.
"I don't feel like it's real and I'm having a hard time conceiving it. It's not sinking into my mind. I wake up every morning thinking that I'm gonna wake up from a nightmare," explained Karen Giddings, Lauren's mother.
It's a nightmare, she says, that's just begun. Karen Giddings says she does believe a person is innocent until proven guilty and adds, her heart goes out to McDaniel's family.
Kaitlyn Wheeler and Karen Giddings stressed their gratitude to the Middle Georgia community. They said the thousands of cards and sincere words of sorrow have been a blessing in the midst of their tradegedy.
Lauren's funeral is Saturday back home in Maryland. The Giddings family is looking forward to celebrating their daughters short but full life.
The bond hearing set for McDaniel Thursday has been canceled. A trial date has not yet been determined.
McDaniel is in jail today as he faces felony murder, that means taking someone's life in the commission of a felony, according to the DA. Officials say more charges may come.