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Case of Laurie Dann
(AKA: Laurie Wasserman)
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI
Hubbard Woods School - Winnetka, IL
This page is dedicated to the memory of Nicholas Corwin
On May 20, 1988 Laurie Wasserman Dann went on a shooting rampage in an afflient northern suburb of Chicago.
Laurie Wasserman - Dann grew up in Glencoe, an affluent northern suburb of Chicago. She was the daughter of accountant Norman and Edith Wasserman.
Laurie was first brought to the attention of Illinois law-enforcement officials in 1985, when they were called in during disputes between her and her husband. In 1986, after the couple had separated, someone stabbed Russell Dann while he was asleep, missing his heart by just one inch. Dann blamed his wife for the attack, and sources close to her family say a shop clerk identified her as the woman who bought an ice pick shortly before the stabbing. But no one saw Laurie Dann enter or leave his apartment; he failed a lie-detector test while Laurie, who often managed to seem like a vulnerable victim, passed. The case was dropped.Laurie first came to the attention of Illinois authorities after she filed for divorce in 1985.
Earlier in 1988 Dann's nuisance calls to an ex-boyfriend, a Tucson doctor, escalated into death threats. "I've been a prosecutor a long time," says Arizona-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Johnson, who listened to a tape of a call. "I thought it was scary." She planned to indict Dann for the threatening calls. But the doctor, fearing retaliation against him and his family, asked Johnson to postpone the indictment, scheduled to take place just two days before the Winnetka shootings. Meantime, Johnson, who had traced the calls to Madison, Wis., decided to have the FBI there question Dann. But agents couldn't find her in Madison, where, even though she wasn't a student, she maintained a dorm room: she had already left for Illinois. The Chicago Feds were not alerted to pick up the search. Dann, says Johnson, wasn't a top-priority fugitive.
Days prior to Laurie's death, her ex-husband, Russell Dann, received threatening telephone calls.
The night before the FBI looked for Dann in Madison, a student-residence manager had found her in a trash-bin room lying in a fetal position, covered with a plastic bag. By the time the police arrived, Dann had moved to her own quarters. Despite the filth and disorder of the room, she convinced the cops that she needed no medical assistance. They found no gun and concluded they had no grounds to take her into protective custody.
On several occasions,
Dann's parents, intervened on their daughter's behalf. When Glencoe police
asked him to persuade Dann to give up her .357 magnum, Norman Wasserman refused,
saying she needed it as protection against her ex-husband. When several families
for whom she baby-sat reported thefts and property damage, Wasserman denied
her guilt but made restitution. Last summer he placated officials at Northwestern
University, where Dann was about to be evicted from a campus apartment for
turning her room into a health hazard and for leaving raw meat under cushions
in public areas. Some authorities believe her parents acted irresponsibly
in covering Dann's tracks. "The family was able to do things which blocked
the normal processes" of the system, says Frank Kruesi, chief executive officer
at the Cook County State's Attorney's office. "They were trying to shield
her rather than protect her and do what's best for the community."
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Table of Contents:
Woman Opens Fire On Class; Boy, 8, Dead (05/20/1988)
Murder of Innocence: The Tragic Life and Final Rampage of Laurie Dann by Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn and Eric Zorn
Murder of Innocence (1993) - Made for TV Movie
Domestic Violence in Jewish Families
Woman Opens Fire On Class; Boy, 8, Dead
By The Associated Press
Los Angeles Times, May 20, 1988, Friday, Late Final Edition
SECTION: Part 1; Page 1; Column 3; Late Final Desk
WINNETKA, Ill. A woman walked into a second-grade classroom and opened fire with a handgun today, killing an 8-year-old boy and critically wounding five other people before barricading herself in a nearby home after shooting a young man, authorities said.
The woman "just walked into the classroom, went past the teacher who was there, indicated the gun was real and began firing at random," said Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm.
The woman fled Hubbard Woods Elementary School and went to a home several blocks away. A 22-year-old man was wounded when he tried to wrestle a gun away from the woman, but he and four other people in the house were able to escape, said Joe Sumner, director of operations for police.
Sumner said a negotiating team was unable to establish contact with the woman. No motive for the shootings was immediately known.
Parents Rush to School
Police recovered a .32-caliber handgun from the school bathroom, and the woman was believed to also have a .22-caliber gun and a third, unidentified weapon, Sumner said.
Police said the woman, believed to be 31, had opened fire at the school without warning at 10:45 a.m. The shooting ended 15 minutes later.
Parents rushed to the school and gathered outside, many of them weeping as they waited for word of their children. School officials said they will keep the remaining children in school until the end of the day.
Sumner said the woman barricaded inside the home used three different names, one of which was Laurie Dann. The FBI said it has an "investigative interest" in a woman of the same name.
Boy Dies at Hospital
Four children were taken by ambulance to Evanston Hospital, and two children and one adult were being treated at Highland Park Hospital, officials said.
"We have two girls and two boys. They're all critical, between the ages of 7 and 9," Evanston Hospital spokeswoman Mary Harris said. "Three are in the operating room, and one is in the emergency room."
Three of the children suffered chest wounds and a fourth suffered a neck wound, Evanston Hospital officials said.
One 8-year-old boy died at Highland Park Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Sue Masaracchia. One other boy and a 22-year-old man are in critical condition, spokesman Mark Newton said.
ABC News Transcripts
Woman Shoots Children In Classroom - Ted Koppel
WORLD NEWS TONIGHTWORLD NEWS TONIGHT
ABC News - May 20, 1988 Friday
It happened late this morning at a school in Winnetka, Illinois. One witness said a woman confronted a room full of eight year olds and said, "Kids I'm going to teach you something about guns, line up against the wall". What followed was a nightmare. Chris Bury reports from the scene.
CHRIS BURY [CLASSROOM] At mid morning a woman carrying at least two handguns entered a second grade classroom at the Hubbard Woods Elementary School. Police say she walked past the teacher, announced that the gun was real and then shot six students at random. [PARENTS] Panicked parents clustered around the school today waiting to see if their children were safe.
WOMAN It's just a tragedy. There's nothing more to be said.
WOMAN I just can't believe that anyone would want to hurt children.
CHRIS BURY There were tears of grief and relief.
WOMAN It's awful, it should never have happened.
CHRIS BURY The suspect fled the school to a nearby home, shooting and wounding a 20 year old man who had tried to take her gun away.
WOMAN She shot my 20 year old kid.
CHRIS BURY Family members fled the home and the woman suspect holed up inside. Police swat teams and negotiators moved in. [PHOTO] The suspect is identified as 31 year old Laurie Dann, a housekeeper and babysitter. Before the shootings, police say, she set fire to the home where she worked while a mother and herm children where in the basement. They escaped without injury. Parents of the wounded children rushed to the hospital where trauma teams performed emergency surgery.
DR. DAVID WINCHESTER I still feel quite optimistic about all of them actually. The three who are stable and critical will probably be staged less critical tonight or tomorrow.
CHRIS BURY The neighborhood school is in one of Chicago's wealthiest suburbs. Winnetka is a place people move to escape the random violence normally associated with the city.
WOMAN I was just thinking just yesterday about how lucky we are to have such a nice quiet community and such a wonderful school.
CHRIS BURY While parents and family members waited outside, psychologists inside tried to help students cope with the tragedy.
WOMAN It's such a small school, the children all know each other.
CHRIS BURY [SU] This afternoon as police searched for a motive, why anyone would shoot innocent children, parents got to take the students home. They hugged their children a little tighter today. Chris Bury, ABC News, Winnetka, Illinois.
TED KOPPEL At last report, swat teams still are surrounding the house where they believe the woman is hiding. They have thus far at least, made no attempt to storm it.
Left: Frightened parent clutches her daughter in front of Winnetka's Hubbard Woods School. Right: Laurie Dann
School Rampage: 1 Dies, 6 Shot, Suspect Kills Self After Siege in Winnetka
Robert Enstad and David Ibata Robert Davis, Maria Hunt, John Kass, Terry Wilson, Peter Kendall, Thomas M Burton, Patrick Reardon, Joel Kaplan, John Lucadamo, John O'Brien, Ray Gibson, Wes Smith, Robert Blau and Jessica Seigel contributed to this report
Chicago Tribune - May 20, 2006
Before the most violent day in the village's history was over, a woman identified as Laurie Dann, 30, had set fire to a home where she was employed as a baby-sitter; gone to a nearby elementary school and shot six pupils, one in a washroom and five in a classroom; invaded a nearby home and shot one of its residents; and, police said, finally ended her life.
Nicholas Corwin, 8, was killed at Hubbard Woods Elementary School, 1110 Chatfield Rd. He was pronounced dead at Highland Park Hospital about an hour and a half after being shot in his 2d-grade classroom.
Victims in Highland Park Hospital were Peter Munro, 8, and Philip Andrew, 20, both in serious but stable condition with chest wounds. Andrew was shot in his family's home at 2 Kent Rd., Winnetka, while trying to wrestle away a gun from Dann. It was in the Andrew home that the woman's body was found by police shortly after 7:10 p.m.
By John O'Brien and Ray Gibson
Chicago Tribune - May 21, 1988
Laurie Dann, who shot seven people in Winnetka Friday, had a history of bizarre behavior for years and had been investigated by authorities in three states for regularly threatening to kill people, yet she still had a license to carry a gun, interviews showed Friday.
Dann also had another side. The 30-year-old daughter of a well-to-do family in Glencoe, Dann projected such a reasonable personality that other well-to-do families hired her to baby-sit for their children.
One woman who had met Dann a few times described her as "a very quiet girl, very intelligent . . . slim and attractive, nice and polite." A friend described Dann as "happy and upbeat."
Woman shoots 6 at school before committing suicide
The Toronto Star - May 21, 1988
Saturday, SATURDAY SECOND EDITION - SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A3
WINNETKA, Ill. (Reuter) - A woman who killed one child and critically wounded five others in a shooting spree at a school yesterday took her own life after barricading herself inside a nearby house.
Police in this affluent Chicago suburb said Laurie Dann, 30, who was described as having a history of emotional problems, was found shot to death on the second floor of the house where she had held police at bay for more than six hours.
Very young children
"They were all very young children," Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm said at the school. "She just walked into the room, walked past the teacher, indicated the gun was real and started firing at random.
"You have to ask yourself why. For the life of me I don't know why."
Police say Dann entered the school and shot a boy in the washroom. She then entered a Grade 2 classroom, where she pulled a gun, spoke a few words and sprayed the room with shots, wounding five other children ranging in age from 7 to 9.
One 8-year-old boy in the classroom died of a bullet wound in the chest.
There were about 22 children in the classroom when the shooting started. They dived for cover and those who survived dashed through a door leading to the outside.
"There was blood all over the classroom and desks knocked over" as the children panicked at one-storey, red-brick Hubbard Woods Elementary School, said policeman John Ceglieski.
"Kids were hiding under the desk as well as they could," Timm said.
Police in neighboring Highland Park said Dann started the day by trying to set a fire at another school, and was stopped at a day-care centre when she tried to enter carrying a can of gasoline.
Investigators said she then set fire to the home of a family where she worked as a babysitter. The fire trapped the woman for whom Dann worked and two of her children but they managed to escape through a window.
Another child in the family attended Hubbard Woods school but was out on a field trip when the incident occurred.
After the shooting at the school Dann fled to a nearby house, where she shot a 20-year-old man who lived there.
Neighbors of the family in whose home the rampage began said Dann had recently been told she would lose her job because the family was moving.
GRAPHIC: REUTER PHOTO: Two women comfort each other outside Hubbard Woods School. PHOTO: Laurie Dann
Shooting Victims Never Had A Chance
Chicago Tribune - May 20, 2006
Steve Johnson and Peter Kendall Robert Enstad, David Ibata, Jessica Seigel and Fred Marc Biddle contributed to this report.
Hours after Nicholas Brent Corwin was shot to death at school, his mother wrote three paragraphs about him celebrating the qualities that, when she and her husband contemplated them, would make them "weep with joy."
Linda Corwin wrote of her 8-year-old son's humor and sensitivity, his maturity and imagination, his talent at art and athletics. And she remembered him, on the playing field, as a "very tough competitor."
"A gifted athlete, a gifted artist, a gifted student; a child full of love and humor; a child who made his parents weep with joy at his talent and attractiveness. He loved people; he loved organizing games; he played basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer: He drew pictures that showed a keen eye for detail and a vivid imagination; a sweet and loving child who had concern for others."
By Charles Bremner
The Times (London), May 21 1988
Saturday - SECTION: Issue 63087.
Police surrounding a house in the Chicago area, left, where an armed woman, who went on a shooting rampage yesterday, killing one child, and critically wounding five others, barricaded herself in before taking her own life. Parents comforting each other, right, outside the school where Miss Laurie Dann strode into a class of eight-year-olds and started shooting. Witnesses said she had three pistols. She apparently lined the children up against a wall and said: 'Kids, I'm going to teach you something about guns today, 'before opening fire. A police spokesman in Winnetka, Illinois, said: 'She just walked into the room, walked past the teacher, indicated the gun was real and started firing at random.' She shot another child in the corridor on her way out. Miss Dann then ran through a wood into a nearby house in the exclusive Chicago commuter suburb. Four members of a family and their maid escaped after a man of about 20 scuffled with the woman and was shot in the chest. He was critically ill in hospital last night. Three eight-year-old boys and two girls were also in critical condition. An eight-year-old boy died in hospital. Homes in the quiet suburb on the shore of Lake Michigan, north of Chicago, were evacuated last night as heavily armed police teams took up positions around the house where the woman was thought to have taken refuge. Police said the woman set fire to the house of the family for whom she worked before setting out on her rampage at the Hubbard Woods Elementary School. That family escaped through the basement. Police said it appeared she had become distraught after learning that her employers were about to leave the area. The FBI said Miss Dann, was aged 31, and they issued pictures of her, saying she had been the subject of previous investigations. They gave no details. The school kept all the surviving children in for the rest of the day, giving them counselling to help them cope with their ordeal. Television news showed shocked parents milling around outside the school two hours after the 11am shooting. A spokesman said: 'They don't know if their children were hurt or not.'
Timetable For A Day of Terror
Chicago Tribune - May 22, 2006
7 a.m. and later: Suspicious packages of orange drink are delivered to at least eight North Shore homes-most of them homes where Laurie Dann had once worked as a babysitter.
9 a.m.: Laurie Dann arrives at the Winnetka home of Padraig and Marian Rushe, 1250 Forest Glen Drive South. After serving contaminated milk to two of the Rushe children-milk they only tasted-Dann takes them to Ravinia Elementary School in Highland Park, after telling Marian Rushe she is escorting them to a carnival in Evanston. After arriving at Ravinia, she sets fire to a plastic bag filled with a flammable liquid in a hallway. She leaves.
Woman sent poisoned snacks before school shooting spree
By The Associated Press
The Toronto Star - May 22, 1988
Sunday, SUNDAY SECOND EDITION - SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A2
WINNETKA, Ill. (AP) - The woman who went on a shooting rampage at a school apparently also delivered mysterious containers of juice to several homes and arsenic-laced snacks to a pair of university fraternities, police said yesterday.
Three people who ate the snacks at Northwestern University's Alpha Tau Omega became seriously ill and were taken to hospital, Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm said. Six other people were treated and released at hospital.
"The situation with Laurie has not ended," Timm said.
The chief said Laurie Dann, 30, dropped off juice containers at the doors of six homes where she once worked as a babysitter.
At one of the homes, the juice carried a note that read, "Love your little sisters. Enjoy."
One girl felt ill after sipping the juice and another was taken to hospital as a precaution, Timm said. The juice was being examined last night.
The developments added a bizarre twist to the case of Dann, who walked into Hubbard Woods Elementary School and opened fire Friday morning, killing Nicholas Corwin, 8, and wounding five other children. She later wounded a young man at a nearby home, where she holed up before killing herself.
Four of the wounded children were listed in critical condition yesterday.
Timm was not sure why Dann delivered arsenic-laced snacks to the fraternities, though "she did have a friend at the Northwestern campus."
At Dann's Madison, Wis., apartment, Timm said, authorities found a list of people who received the drinks. They also recovered two vials containing a powdered substance.
Meanwhile, hundreds of parents and children touched by the tragedy gathered at the school yesterday to discuss the shootings and offer prayers for the victims and for Dann.
Police believe Dann became distraught when a family that hired her to babysit said they were leaving this affluent suburb of Chicago. Before the shootings, she tried to set fire Friday to the family's home and another school, police said.
They also believe she tried to serve contaminated milk to the family's children.
Police found books about poison in Dann's Madison apartment.
Those who knew Dann say her rampage was not a surprise.
"I had a feeling that this person was about to explode," said Fred Foreman, the county state's attorney. His office was trying to track down Dann for making threatening phone calls to an old boyfriend.
Her ex-husband woke up one night in 1986 to find himself bleeding from a stab wound made with an ice pick. He suspected his wife, but police could find no link between her and the stabbing.
The couple were separated at the time.
Timm said that Dann had been seeing a psychiatrist, but he gave no further details.
GRAPHIC: Photo Nicholas Corwin
Police Still Unraveling Trail Left by Woman in Rampage
By The Associated Press
The New York Times, May 22, 1988
Sunday, Late City Final Edition - SECTION: Section 1; Part 1, Page 16, Column 1; National Desk
WINNETKA, Ill., May 21 The Federal Bureau of Investigation knew about Laurie Wasserman Dann. So did prosecutors in three states. So did her neighbors and her former husband and in-laws.
Prosecutors were trying to track her down and charge her with making harassing telephone calls and threats as she became increasingly disturbed. But they lost a race with time. On Friday, the 30-year-old woman set fire to the house where she worked as a baby sitter, went to an elementary school and shot six children, killing one, then wounded a 20-year-old man in a nearby house and barricaded herself there.
The nine-hour ordeal ended Friday night when police discovered that Ms. Dann had fatally shot herself.
Poisonings Are Suspected
The authorities said today they believe that before Friday's attack, Ms. Dann delivered marshmallow and rice cereal snacks tainted with arsenic to two fraternity houses at Northwestern University in Evanston. Several students who ate the snacks at the Alpha Tau Omega and Psi Upsilon fraternities became ill.
The police said Ms. Dann also may have tried to poison members of several families for whom she once had worked.
''The situation with Laurie has not ended,'' said Herbert Timm, police chief of Winnetka, referring to the reconstruction of events on the day of the shootings.
Chief Timm said that before the shooting, Ms. Dann dropped off fruit drinks at the doors of six houses where she once worked as a baby sitter in the Chicago suburbs of Glencoe, Highland Park and unincorporated Winnetka. One girl who drank the fruit drink became ill, but she was never taken to a hospital.
Laboratory tests showed that the juice contained arsenic, said Sgt. Gene Kalvaitis of the Winnetka police. He said he did not know how much arsenic was in the juice.
At Ms. Dann's apartment in Madison, Wis., authorities said they found a list of people who had received the drink deliveries, They also recovered two vials of powdered substances, one black and one white.
Chief Timm said the police did not know why Ms. Dann had delivered the snacks to the two fraternities. Seven people who ate the snacks were later treated at local hospitals and released.
Sergeant Kalvaitis said an analysis of the snacks by a police laboratory showed that they ''contained a very heavy concentration of arsenic.''
The police believe that Ms. Dann was distraught Friday that the family that employed her as a baby sitter had an nounced plans to move out of state.
Four of the children wounded at Hubbard Woods Elementary School in this affluent northern suburb remained in critical condition today.
As details emerged about the bizarre final hours of Ms. Dann's life, hundreds of parents and children touched by the tragedy gathered at the school today to discuss the shootings and pray for the victims and Ms. Dann. Social workers talked privately with some of them.
Threats and Odd Behavior
Laurie Dann left a long trail that led to Friday's rampage.
She had harassed an old boyfriend for two years with telephone calls.
Her former husband was stabbed with an ice pick as he slept one night in 1986. He suspected his former wife.
She had resided at an apartment complex in Madison where she was known for odd behavior. A former neighbor, Keith Wilson, said she was dubbed ''the elevator woman'' because she rode the elevator for extended periods, night and day, in the high-rise residence where she lived.
But the evidence that she was violent was thin, and proper procedures had to be followed. Her former boyfriend in Arizona refused to press charges. And some families Ms. Dann worked for as a baby sitter praised her work.
''If only we had known,'' said Dan Knauss, an assistant United States attorney in Tucson, Ariz. ''But you can't anticipate things like this.''
Woman Was Seeing Psychiatrist
Chief Timm said that Ms. Dann had been seeing a psychiatrist, but he gave no further details.
At some point, Chief Timm said, she obtained a license for a gun, one of three pistols she used Friday.
The authorities in Arizona said today they had been ready to indict Ms. Dann for making a threatening phone call to a man she had dated at the University of Arizona in the late 1970's.
Janet Johnson, another Federal prosecutor in Tucson, said the man had received harassing phone calls on and off since 1985 and on May 9 Ms. Dann threatened his life. But, fearing retaliation, he asked that the officials look for evidence that Ms. Dann had threatened others, so he would not be alone in pressing charges.
''We were not planning to dump the case, just trying to get some telephone calls from other jurisdictions,'' Ms. Johnson said. ''You need time to get those records, to prove an interstate connection.
Trying to Follow Leads
''The F.B.I. had looked for her in Madison, but she had disappeared. We knew we were going to try to follow up leads, but she was lost so there wasn't much we could do.''
Ms. Dann, the daughter of a accountant, was reared in Glencoe, a nearby suburb. She came to the attention of Illinois authorities after she filed for divorce in 1986 from Russell Dann, an insurance agent.
Mr. Dann's parents, longtime Highland Park residents, also reported he had received threatening phone calls from the woman.
Poisoned food Adds Twist to Rampage Case
By The Associated Press
Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1988
Sunday, Home Edition - SECTION: Part 1; Page 25; Column 1; National Desk
WINNETKA, Ill. A woman who went on a deadly shooting rampage at a school first delivered arsenic-tainted juice to at least six homes and poisoned snacks to a pair of Northwestern University fraternities, police said Saturday.
Three people who ate the snacks at Alpha Tau Omega became seriously ill and were taken to Evanston Hospital, Police Chief Herbert Timm said. University and hospital officials said a total of six students were treated and released.
Timm said Laurie Dann, 30, dropped off the drinks laced with arsenic at the doors of six homes in Glencoe, Highland Park and unincorporated Winnetka where she once worked as a baby-sitter.
One Glencoe girl felt ill after sipping the juice but was not taken to a hospital, Timm said. A Highland Park child was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Laboratory tests showed the juice contained arsenic, Winnetka police Sgt. Gene Kalvaitis said. But he said he did not know how much arsenic was in the juice.
Attached to one of the packages Dann left was a note that read: "Love your little sisters. Enjoy."
The developments added a bizarre twist to the case. On Friday, Dann walked into Hubbard Woods Elementary School and opened fire, killing an 8-year-old boy and wounding five other children. She later wounded a sixth person at a nearby home where she holed up before killing herself.
Four of the wounded children were listed in critical condition Saturday.
Timm was not sure why Dann delivered the arsenic-laced snacks to the Alpha Tau Omega and Psi Upsilon fraternities, although he said that "she did have a friend at the Northwestern campus."
At Dann's Madison, Wis., apartment, the police chief said, authorities found a list of people who received the drinks. They also found two vials of powdered substances and books about poison.
Syringe at Apartment
Timm said police found a syringe at a suburban Chicago apartment where Dann stayed and investigators believed she used that to inject arsenic into the snacks.
Meanwhile, hundreds of parents and children touched by the tragedy gathered at the school Saturday to discuss the shootings and offer prayers for the victims and for Dann. Social workers were on hand to talk privately with them.
Dr. Ira Sloan, chairman of the psychiatry department at Evanston Hospital, said reactions ranged widely. "There were children who were crying," Sloan said. "There were children helping each other, hugging each other and handing Kleenex to each other. There were children who were angry."
Police believe that Dann became distraught when a family that hired her to baby-sit said they were leaving Illinois. Before the shootings, she tried to set fire Friday to the family's home and another school, police said.
The attack Friday was a nightmare for residents of this affluent suburb just north of Chicago. The last murder here, a police sergeant said, took place 31 years ago when an officer was shot.
Day of Terror in Winnetka Bizarre Acts Colored Past of Gunwoman
By Wes Smith and John O'Brien
Chicago Tribune - May 22, 1988
"What ifs" besieged the mind of a former boyfriend of Laurie Dann when he learned of her rampage against schoolchildren and her suicide Friday in Winnetka.
And those whose lives intersected with Dann along the way, in Tucson, in Madison, Wis., and elsewhere, were left to ponder what might have happened had she snapped and struck at them instead.
Dann, whose maiden name is Wasserman, returned to her family's home in Glencoe after leaving Arizona. She began working as a receptionist at the Dann Brothers Insurance Co. in Northbrook in May, 1979, and three years later, on Sept. 11, 1982, she married Russell "Rusty" Dann, the son of one of the owners.
From Kids To Victims In Minutes
By Steve Johnson and Peter Kendall Robert Enstad, David Ibata, Jessica Seigel and Fred Marc Biddle contributed to this report
Chicago Tribune - May 22, 1988
Not until she shot 20-year-old Philip Andrew did Laurie Dann pick on somebody her own size. Even then, she was the one with the gun.
Before that, her victims were six small children, five of whom Dann shot in their 2d-grade classroom. The sixth, she shot in a bathroom.
Services for Nicholas Corwin, who also is survived by his father, Joel, a lawyer, and two brothers, 5-year-old Johnny and 11-year-old Michael, are to be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield. Hubbard Woods officials said the school won't open till 1 p.m. Monday so people may attend the funeral.
School Killer Left A Trail of Poison Fraternities, Home Received Tainted Food
Chicago Tribune - May 22, 1988
By Ray Gibson and Linnet Myers Wes Smith, Terry Wilson, Maria Hunt, Robert Enstad, Ray Gibson, Peter Kendall and Steve Johnson contributed to this report
Before she began her bloody shooting spree at a Winnetka grammar school, Laurie Dann tried to deliver death up and down the North Shore in the form of tainted food and beverage, police said Saturday.
Crime labs were testing suspicious food packages that Dann left at two Northwestern University fraternities, a graduate school building and several North Shore homes, police said.
Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm said that the packages show that Dann was bent on committing murder Friday even before she opened fire on a class of helpless schoolchildren at the Hubbard Woods Elementary School, 1110 Chatfield Rd.
Gun - Curb System Full of Holes
By Jean Davidson
Chicago Tribune - May 22, 1988
Laurie Dann purchased the three handguns used in Friday's bloody rampage at a Glenview gun shop where she was remembered as "just a pleasant, friendly person."
"There was absolutely nothing unusual about her," said John Morgan, owner of Marksman Police and Shooter Supply, 920 Waukegan Rd., in the northern suburb. A clerk at the store remembered Dann because she was flirtatious, according to Morgan.
Dann's first purchase, on May 10, 1986, was a high-powered Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum with a 4-inch barrel and nickel plating, according to Morgan. Nearly 18 months later, on Nov. 7, 1987, Dann returned for a Smith & Wesson .32 caliber revolver. The last pistol, purchased Dec. 29, was small but no less deadly-a .22 caliber Beretta semi-automatic.
School Reopens, Attempts to Ease A Suburb's Fears
By Stevenson Swanson and Robert Enstad Steve Johnson, Maria Hunt, Ray Gibson, Dennis Odom, David Ibata and Joel Kaplan contributed to this report
Chicago Tribune - May 22, 2006
It seemed appropriate that in the genteel community of Winnetka-more of a quiet, isolated village than a suburb of a major American city-school officials were so concerned about the mental well-being of students and parents that they held a session to counsel and comfort them the day after Laurie Dann had shot six children at the school, killing one and seriously injuring the others.
Laurie Dann arrived at the school about 10:30 a.m., after leaving the house of Padraig and Marian Rushe, where she had set a fire that briefly trapped Mrs. Rushe and two of the couple's children in the basement.
Dann walked through the main entrance of the gabled school and went into a boys' restroom. Robert Trossman, 6, was inside. She shot him in the chest. She dropped a .357 Magnum revolver on the restroom floor, and the wounded child dragged himself down the hall to his homeroom. He looked at his teacher and said: "I'm shot. Am I going to die?"
Teacher Recalls 'Day of Terror'
By Jessica Seigel
Chicago Tribune - May 23, 1988
When a stone-faced woman walked into the 2d-grade classroom about 10:30 a.m. Friday at Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka, teacher Amy Moses tried to share with her the excitement of 24 children eager to complete a test on bicycle safety.
"I really wanted her to know why the children were so happy," Moses recounted Sunday at a friend's home in Evanston. "It was such a special day- bike-test day. We were going to have just a fun, fun day, and it was just a day of terror."
"My impression at the moment was that she was a college student who had come to the school to observe the class, which is not unusual," Moses recalled, speaking in the same gentle, soft manner that makes her a teacher well loved by her students. Moses, who grew up in Wilmette and lives in Evanston, worked at Hubbard Woods several years ago and has been a substitute teacher there since March.
Scared Town Comforts Families - Special Services Soothe The Pain in Winnetka
By Maria Hunt and Robert Enstad Steve Johnson, Maria Hunt, Ray Gibson, Dennis Odom, David Ibata and Joel Kaplan contributed to this report
Chicago Tribune - May 23, 1988
"My kids are preoccupied with this, and the fact that it was a baby- sitter," said one parent, Karen Ward, whose children are 5 and 8. Her children do not attend the Hubbard Woods Elementary School, where Laurie Dann, 30, barged into the school Friday and shot 6 children before eventually killing herself. But Ward's children, who attend another Winnetka school, "very much want to talk about it and the person who did it and why," she said.
The shots killed Nicholas Corwin, 8, of 700 Locust St., Winnetka, and wounded five others, all from Winnetka. Reported in serious condition late Saturday at Evanston Hospital were Robert Trossman, 6; Kathryn Miller, 7; and Mark Tebourek, 8. Lindsay Fisher, 8, was reported in critical condition at Evanston. The condition of Peter Munro, 8, was upgraded Sunday from serious to fair by officials at Highland Park Hospital.
Laurie Dann arrived at the school about 10:30 a.m. Friday, after leaving the house of Padraig and Marian Rushe, where she had set a fire that briefly trapped Mrs. Rushe and two of the couple's children in the basement.
Los Angeles Times - May 23, 1988
Monday, Home Edition - SECTION: Sports; Part 3; Page 6; Column 2; Sports Desk
A sprinter on the Northwestern University track team returned to action in the Big Ten track and field meet at Ann Arbor, Mich., two days after eating a poisoned cookie left by the woman involved in a shooting spree at a Winnetka, Ill., elementary school.
Sophomore Greg McCullough, who ran a leg in the 400-meter relay, ate one arsenic-laced snack Friday from a batch delivered to the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house by Laurie Dann before she killed 8-year-old Nicholas Corwinand wounded six others.
FBI had sought woman before school shooting
The Christian Science Monitor - May 23, 1988
Monday - SECTION: News in Brief; Pg. 2
Winnetka, Ill. A woman who killed a child and wounded five others in a fusillade of gunfire in a school was the target of a search by FBI agents at the time, officials said.
The woman, Laurie Dann, who was wanted for allegedly making telephoned death threats against her ex-husband and a former boyfriend, killed herself in the incident Friday.
Winnetka Police said FBI agents in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Arizona were searching for Ms. Dann and were aware that she had a permit to carry a
Police arrested close friend of schoolboy killer
By Marci Persky-Hooper
United Press International - May 26, 1988, Thursday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
WINNETKA, Ill. Police seeking ''to prevent another tragedy'' arrested a close friend of child-killer Laurie Dann and recovered a .357 magnum pistol from her apartment, Police Chief Herbert Timm said Thursday.
Timm said Sheri Lynn Taylor, 34, of Highwood, was arrested Wednesday night and charged with making threatening telephone calls to her ex-husband. After questioning, she was committed for psychiatric evaluation at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke Medical Center in Chicago, Timm said. ''We felt immediate action was absolutely necessary because of information that we had developed as to her instability and her connection with Laurie Dann,'' Timm told a news conference.
He said investigators believe she may have played at least a passive role in Dann's violent spree.
Dann, 30, who worked as babysitter in her neighborhood, burst Friday into the Hubbard Woods Elementary School in the affluent North Shore Chicago suburb of Winnetka and opened fire. She killed an 8-year-old boy and wounded five other children before fleeing, taking refuge in a nearby home where she shot and wounded a 20-year-old man and later killed herself.
Police have since uncovered dozens of packages of poisoned or tampered-with juice and food they said was delivered or mailed by Dann prior to her shooting spree.
''As many of you realized, since the events of last Friday, we have attempted to contact friends and associates of Laurie Dann,'' said Timm, who is heading a task force investigating the case.
''We had identified Sheri Taylor as a close friend. We then received information from her ex-husband that led us to believe that she may be a threat to herself, her family and this community,'' he told reporters at police headquarters.
''We are trying to verify if she had been with Lauri Dann last Thursday or Friday,'' Timm said.
Timm said Taylor's ex-husband, Scott Taylor of Glencoe, told police Wednesday he began receiving threatening telephone calls May 3 and that the threats persisted after Dann's suicide.
''Once Mr. Taylor approached our investigators, it became extremely obvious this was a dangerous situation,'' Timm said. ''We wanted to prevent another tragedy.''
Timm said the calls ''were threatening the life of Mr. Taylor and apparently were threatening the lives of their children, who are in the custody of Mr. Taylor and his new wife.''
Dann's former husband, Russell Dann, also had received threatening telephone calls from ex-spouse before her death.
Police arrested Taylor Wednesday night at the Convenient Food Store in Highwood, where she worked. She was taken into custody on a bond forfeiture warrant from Evanston for failure to appear in court on a traffic violation and was later charged with making threatening phone calls.
Officers later accompanied her to her apartment, where they confiscated a .357 magnum revolver and ''certain documents ... (that) are being examined by the task force,'' Dann said.
He said, however, that she had a valid permit to own the gun. After questioning about her relationship with Dann, Taylor was taken to Rush Presbyterian St. Luke Medical Center, where she was involuntarily committed.
''It is important to understand ... to determine the entire extent of Miss Taylor's involvement with Laurie Dann and the incident of May 20,'' Timm said.
''There is so much information that we still have to develop with Miss Taylor. There are still pieces of this puzzle that remain and need to be answered.''
He said investigators suspect Sheri Taylor may have had some indirect role in Dann's violent activities -- which also included making phone threats, manufacturing incendiary devices and sending a barrage of poisoned packets of food and fruit drink across the country.
But Timm could not specify how investigators believe Sheri Taylor could have been involved, saying only, ''There are numerous possibilities.''
Dann and Taylor met at a wedding while both were married, Timm said. The two couples became close, and began going through divorces at about the same
''It was at that time Laurie Dann and Sheri Taylor became very close,'' Timm said.
Tragedy Clouds The Return of Hubbard Woods Pupils
By Maria Hunt and David Ibata
Chicago Tribune - May 24, 1988
School resumed at Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka Monday, with most of the children being walked to the front door by one or both parents.
Nicholas Corwin, 8, and a 2d grader at Hubbard Woods, was the boy who was shot to death Friday by a deranged woman who also shot four other children in Nicholas' classroom, a 6-year-old boy in the school washroom, and a 20- year-old college student elsewhere in Winnetka.
Meanwhile, the youngest victim of Friday's shootings in the Hubbard Woods School, Robert Trossman, 6, was reported to be happy Monday when doctors removed his oxygen tubes. Officials at Evanston Hospital said Robert downed his favorite sweet-an orange Popsicle-and talked by telephone to his grandfather.
Slain Pupil Buried Amid The Gloom
By Eric Zorn
Chicago Tribune - May 24, 2006
Just before Nicholas Corwin's small, brown coffin was lowered into the ground Monday, several of his young friends leaned forward and reached out for a parting touch.
More than six hours earlier, a chilly, unhappy dawn had broken in Winnetka, a community still reeling from the shock of Friday's violence that hospitalized six people and left Nicholas Corwin, 8, dead of gunshot wounds.
By 8:30 a.m., mourners already had begun to gather at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield for the scheduled 10 a.m. funeral service for Nicholas Corwin. An hour later, the north parking lot was filled. Then the south lot filled, and the cars kept coming, lining up along the sides of Happ Road.
Children, Grownups Share Their Grief For Death of 'Nicest Kid'
By Robert Enstad and Jessica Seigel
Chicago Tribune - May 24, 2006
In a driving rain under a leaden sky, 1,500 mourners gathered at a north suburban synagogue Monday to pay their last respects to 8-year-old Nicholas Corwin, shot to death Friday in his 2d grade Winnetka classroom.
Winnetka's Unexplainable Tragedy And One More Victim
Chicago Tribune - May 24, 2006
As the achingly difficult process of recovery from the inexplicable tragedy in Winnetka's Hubbard Woods school begins and as police in half a dozen North Shore suburbs continue to check for poisoned food and drink left by Laurie Dann, a tangle of unanswerable questions remains.
How could a mentally unstable person like Dann have been allowed to purchase guns? How did she have access to the poison she used to lace fruit juice, milk and cereal snacks? Why didn't her occasional bizarre actions alert someone-her parents, police in the North Shore suburbs and in Madison, any of the families for whom she baby-sat, her former husband-that she was mentally ill and in urgent need of help?
But at the center of the snarl of fearful questions in the aftermath of this tragedy is this: What is the nature of the mental illness that obviously afflicted Dann? How can it be diagnosed and treated? How can communities protect themselves and their children from the terrible dangers that such emotionally sick individuals can create?
Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1988
Thursday, Home Edition - SECTION: Part 1; Page 2; Column 4; National Desk
A Madison, Wis., psychiatrist who was treating Laurie Dann received a drink container this week from the woman who went on a shooting rampage at a Winnetka, Ill., school, and the liquid will be tested for poison, the FBI said. Dann is believed to have delivered arsenic-laced snacks to two fraternities and several families for whom she had worked as a baby sitter before the rampage Friday. An 8-year-old boy was killed in the shooting spree at Hubbard Woods Elementary School. Dann later killed herself. University of Wisconsin-Madison psychiatrist John Greist received the container at his office, FBI agent Kent Miller said. Greist, a specialist in phobias and depressions, did not drink the liquid.
Ex-Husband of Dann Gets Suspect Mail
By Steve Johnson and George Papajohn Ray Gibson and Henry Wood contributed to this report
Chicago Tribune - May 26, 1988
Authorities are investigating whether Laurie Wasserman Dann, the woman who opened fire in a 2d-grade classroom last week in Winnetka, sent her former husband an envelope containing fruit juice that was discovered Wednesday afternoon at a Highland Park post office.
After X-rays indicated the package was not a bomb, said Winnetka Police Sgt. Gene Kalvaitis, the envelope containing the foil package of fruit juice was turned over to the Northern Illinois Crime Laboratory for analysis. Kalvaitis said he did not know when the package was postmarked.
Authorities now suspect that Laurie Dann either mailed or personally delivered 24 packages of food or juice, some of them poisoned with arsenic, to homes on the North Shore and in California and Madison, Wis.
Shootings Leave a Suburb in Trauma
By ISABEL WILKERSON, Special to the New York Times
The New York Times, May 28, 1988
Saturday, Late City Final Edition - SECTION: Section 1; Page 6, Column 1; National Desk
WINNETKA, Ill., May 27 Until a week ago, fear was a foreign emotion in this wealthy suburb north of Chicago. Children played freely, school doors were always open and violence and murder were what happened to someone else.
All that changed last week when a young, apparently deranged woman opened fire in a second-grade public school classroom, killing an 8-year-old pupil and wounding five others. The woman, Laurie Dann, 30, later shot and wounded a 20-year-old man before killing herself.
Now the town that had not had a murder since 1957 is trying to heal its psychic wounds and make sense of what seemed the unthinkable. At the same time, residents are doing all they can to make sure it does not happen again.
The recovery has been made more difficult by reports that, just before the shootings, Mrs. Dann mailed as many as 24 packages of tainted food and juice to friends and acquaintances in Wisconsin and California and several suburbs north of Chicago. No one has been hurt in the incidents, which are being investigated by the Federal authorities.
Close Friend Arrested
A close friend of Mrs. Dann, Sheri Lynn Taylor, 34, was arrested late Wednesday and accused of threatening the life of her former husband, Scott Taylor. The authorities said they believe Mrs. Dann acted alone in the shootings and the delivery of tainted food, but they are seeking information from Mrs. Taylor about the incidents.
''We have no information to connect her, but we're still looking,'' said Sgt. Gene Kalvaitis, a spokesman for the Winnetka Police Department.
The shootings have transformed Winnetka. Two police officers are now stationed at the site of the shootings, Hubbard Woods Elementary School, where before there was not even a security guard. Police cruisers regularly circle the blocks of tree-shaded mansions nearby. Volunteers monitor hallways and watch over the playground.
A team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and nurses has been working full time to help the emotional healing of the students and their parents and teachers.
Meetings With Teachers
The team has had daily meetings with teachers suffering both fear and guilt over the shootings and has held counseling sessions with parents.
The sessions were dominated by questions. Parents wanted to know about security and how they could reassure their children. They said their children were having nightmares and could not sleep unless the lights were on. They wanted to know if this normal. They were told it was. But mostly they wanted a detailed account of the incident itself. ''We said, 'Tell us what happened, tell us where Laurie Dann entered the building, tell us when and how she got in and where she exited,' '' said Shirley Hoff, whose 5-year-old daughter, Jennifer, attends kindergarten at Hubbard Woods. ''Now that we have some answers, we can begin the healing process.''
Up and down the affluent North Shore suburbs of Chicago, the authorities are calling for tougher gun control laws and added school security.
In Winnetka, particularly, parents are much more protective of their children. ''More parents are personally picking up their children than letting them walk home alone, and there's much more car pooling than there used to be,'' said Dr. Donald Monroe, superintendent of Winnetka School District 36. ''We've learned that we weren't as isolated and insulated as we thought.''
The incident has overshadowed class work all week. It is the subject of essays, watercolor paintings and poems.
It is also showing up at recess. ''There's a lot more finger-pointing and 'bang-bang' going on,'' Dr. Monroe said. ''But that's O.K. It's a way of acting out the hurt. It's a way to get it out of their system.''
Psychiatrists and psychologists are urging parents and teachers to encourage such expressions. ''You have to work against natural tendency to try to put the tragedy behind you,'' said Dr. Eitan D. Schwarz, a child psychiatrist working with the families of the shooting victims. ''You can prematurely encapsulate the trauma and wall it off.''
Dr. Schwarz said that unresolved emotional trauma can become like an abscess that can cause pain if touched the wrong way or flare up unexpectedly. ''We have to open it up and drain it,'' he said. ''You have to allow healthy tissue to grow where the abscess was. You can't drain the reality that happened to them, but you can promote healthy emotional growth.''
Going over the incident is a way for the victims to resolve the trauma. ''Children tend to want to repeat things so they can gain a sense of mastery and control over it,'' said Dr. Ira Sloan, the psychiatrist who is heading the team of professionals working with the school.
It is unclear what effect such an experience will have on these children in the long run because there has been little research on the topic. Psychiatrists hope to learn more about the effects of tragedy on children by keeping track of the victims here.
Delayed Reactions Possible
In older people, reaction to a major disaster can appear without warning months or years later, psychiatrists say. Reactions may include depression, insomnia, drug abuse and alcoholism.
Some children are already showing signs of stress. ''Some are going backward in development,'' Dr. Sloan said. ''They don't want to be alone or they want the lights on when they sleep or they ritualistically want to check to see that all the doors are locked.''
Others appear untouched, while their parents are unable to sleep. ''I'm more upset than my daughter will ever be,'' Mrs. Hoff said. ''I start crying at odd times, but she's O.K.''
A child's insouciance may be deceptive, experts caution. ''Children may not show signs of trauma for weeks,'' Dr. Sloan said. ''We're just beginning to see fears showing up.''
But the recovery does not have to be painful. ''This could turn out to be a positive experience, paradoxically,'' Dr. Schwarz said. ''The kids could learn a very important lesson: that they cannot be protected perfectly in this world, but that no matter how bad things are, healing is possible.''
GRAPHIC: Photo of children playing outside the school in Winnetka, Ill., where six were shot last week (NYT/Steve Kagan); Shirley Hoff, the mother of a kindergartener. ''Now that we have some answers, we can begin the healing process,'' she said. (NYT)
Who Keeps An Eye On The Nannies
By Lisa Anderson
Chicago Tribune - May 29, 1988
In the emotionally fraught, compromise-ridden world of American child care, a real-life Mary Poppins is a rare thing. Luckily, so is a Laurie Dann, the baby-sitter whose rampage earlier this month in Winnetka, Ill., left one child dead and six people injured. Dann's notoriety raises uncomfortable questions about the nature of child care throughout the nation.
The parental anxiety and guilt that attend child care in general may be even more acute in the case of in-home care. In essence, parents are inviting strangers into their homes and leaving them alone with their children. Still, in-home care constitutes only about a third of child-care arrangements nationwide and includes many families in which relatives are the care-givers. And despite all the problems, there is a happy ending for most families.
Most often the choice of affluent families, whose workdays or business travel may take their child-care needs beyond the hours of day-care centers, daily and live-in nannies are usually found through agencies or word of mouth. Most parents interviewed said they much preferred the word-of-mouth method, not only because of the agency's fee but because they suspected that nannies wind up at agencies only when they have trouble getting jobs through the neighborhood "nanny network" of parents and child-care workers.
Pieces From Tucson, Madison Added to Dann Puzzel
By Stevenson Swanson
Chicago Tribune - June 1, 1988
Winnetka investigators who traveled last week to Tucson and Madison, Wis., on Tuesday compared notes and examined the psychiatric records of Laurie Dann's Madison therapist, who released the files late Friday.
Before returning this weekend, the task force in Madison also had a 4 1/ 2-hour interview with the therapist, Dr. John Greist, who was treating Dann in the period leading up to her May 20 shooting rampage in which she killed a boy, wounded six people and killed herself.
"We feel we know more about Laurie Dann now than anybody else around," said Winnetka Lt. Joseph Sumner, a member of the task force.
Winnetka Killer Treated With Psychiatric Drug
By Ray Gibson
Chicago Tribune - June 2, 1988
Laurie Dann, the woman who shot and killed a Winnetka 2d grader and wounded six people on May 20, was being treated with an experimental drug used to control a psychiatric disorder, Cook County Medical Examiner Robert Stein said Wednesday.
Stein said that traces of a drug called clomipramine, which is known by the trade name Anafrail, were the only drug that turned up in blood tests performed in conjunction with Dann's autopsy. Dann killed herself after the shootings.
It is unclear where Dann, 30, received the drug, but her University of Wisconsin psychiatrist was authorized to dispense it as part of clinical tests being performed to meet federally mandated Food and Drug Administration requirements.
Dann Took Experimental Drug - Killer Used Medicine to Control Psychiatric Disorder
By Ray Gibson
Chicago Tribune - June 3, 1988
Laurie Dann, the woman who shot and killed a Winnetka 2d grader and wounded six people on May 20, was being treated with an experimental drug used to control a psychiatric disorder, according to Cook County Medical Examiner Robert Stein.
Winnetka Police Lt. Joe Sumner said Thursday that Dann, 30, obtained the drug in March from a pharmacy in Canada using a prescription reportedly written by a Chicago psychiatrist. The drug was found last week when police searched Dann's room in Madison, Wis.
Sumner said police are still investigating how Dann obtained the drug from the pharmacy and how she got the prescription. Officials with the Food and Drug Administration said no federal law would have been violated if a physician prescribed the drug, but that Dann may have violated federal laws by bringing it into the country.
State Probing How Dann Obtained Drug
By Ray Gibson and Stevenson Swanson
Chicago Tribune - June 3, 1988
State officials said Thursday that they were investigating how Laurie Dann, the Glencoe woman who shot and killed a Winnetka 2d-grader and wounded six people May 20, obtained an experimental drug used to treat a psychiatric disorder.
Additional tests, disclosed Thursday, also revealed that Dann had levels of another drug, lithium carbonate. A Madison psychiatrist, who had been treating Dann until March, had prescribed this for Dann.
Clomipramine, manufactured under the trade name Anafrail by the Ciba- Geigy Corp. of New Jersey, is undergoing federally required testing to meet Food and Drug Administration requirements before the company can sell the drug in the U.S. Dr. John Greist, the Madison psychiatrist, was authorized to dispense Anafrail, but did not prescribe it for Dann, police said.
The Many Faces of Laurie Dann
George Papajohn and Joel Kaplan Ray Gibson, William Recktenwald, John O'Brien, Steve Johnson, Barbara Mahany and Stevenson Swanson contributed to this report
Chicago Tribune - June 5, 1988
She lived in luxurious houses in Glencoe and Highland Park but ended up with a desire to sleep inside her car. At age 30, Laurie Wasserman Dann lived with students 12 years her junior in off-campus housing at the University of Wisconsin, never enrolling in class. The teenager who once enjoyed carefree rides in a convertible preferred to ride aimlessly in the elevator.
Drug Dann Used Gets FDA Approval
Chicago Tribune - June 8, 1988
The FDA action is unrelated to the Dann case, said FDA spokesman Brad Stone, who added, "We have no reason to believe that the drug played any part in that incident." The Illinois Department of Professinal Regulations and Winnetka police are checking the circumstances under which Dann was able to obtain the drug. The drug was prescribed by a Chicago psychiatrist and obtained from a pharmacy in Canada.
Falling Through the Cracks
By Eloise Salholz with Patricia King in Chicago
Newsweek - June 13, 1988
UNITED STATES EDITION - SECTION: NATIONAL AFFAIRS; Pg. 33
Why the system didn't stop the Winnetka killer
To the Illinois police, there were blood-chilling similarities between Sheri Lynn Taylor and Laurie Dann, the babysitter who killed one eight-year-old and wounded five other children at Winnetka's Hubbard Woods Elementary School last month. Like Dann, the 34-year-old Taylor made threatening calls to her former husband. Like Dann, she owned a .357 magnum. And the two women were friends. After Dann killed herself following her murderous rampage, Taylor stepped up her menacing phone calls. "She was a blueprint of Laurie Dann," says Winnetka police chief Herbert Timm. "She was a time bomb that looked like it was ready to go off." Instead, it was defused. After being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, Taylor agreed to extend her stay. But their success in the Taylor case only intensified the authorities' regrets about the one that got away. Though known to the police in three states, says Timm, Dann "just fell through the cracks."
Laurie Dann's numerous run-ins with the law make it tempting, in hindsight, to believe that someone should have known just how disturbed she was, and how dangerous. But despite a long history of antisocial behavior, her criminal record was deceptively short: she had been charged only with making hang-up phone calls to her former in-laws, a misdemeanor that was never prosecuted, and with shoplifting earlier this year. Profoundly shaken by the shootings, acquaintances, mental-health professionals and police in Chicago's suburbs and beyond are asking themselves whether they could have done anything to stop Laurie Dann, a woman who acted out her private demons very much in public. Her case underscores some troubling issues:
* Staying One Step Behind: Illinois law-enforcement officials had known about Dann since 1985, when they were called in during disputes between her and her husband. In 1986, after the couple had separated, someone stabbed Russell Dann while he was asleep, missing his heart by just one inch. Dann blamed his wife for the attack, and sources close to her family say a shop clerk identified her as the woman who bought an ice pick shortly before the stabbing. But no one saw Laurie Dann enter or leave his apartment; he failed a lie-detector test while Laurie, who often managed to seem like a vulnerable victim, passed. The case was dropped.
Earlier this year Dann's nuisance calls to an ex-boyfriend, a Tucson doctor, escalated into death threats. "I've been a prosecutor a long time," says Arizona-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Johnson, who listened to a tape of a call. "I thought it was scary." She planned to indict Dann for the threatening calls. But the doctor, fearing retaliation against him and his family, asked Johnson to postpone the indictment, scheduled to take place just two days before the Winnetka shootings. Meantime, Johnson, who had traced the calls to Madison, Wis., decided to have the FBI there question Dann. But agents couldn't find her in Madison, where, even though she wasn't a student, she maintained a dorm room: she had already left for Illinois. The Chicago Feds were not alerted to pick up the search. Dann, says Johnson, wasn't a top-priority fugitive.
The night before the FBI looked for Dann in Madison, a student-residence manager had found her in a trash-bin room lying in a fetal position, covered with a plastic bag. By the time the police arrived, Dann had moved to her own quarters. Despite the filth and disorder of the room, she convinced the cops that she needed no medical assistance. They found no gun and concluded they had no grounds to take her into protective custody.
The day after her encounter with the Madison cops, Dann headed for Chicago's North Shore. Police there were planning to file charges against Dann as soon as subpoenaed phone records arrived. Says Lake County State's Attorney Fred Foreman: "We were working as fast as we could to put together a case against Dann to get her off the street, because we knew she was exhibiting bizarre behavior." It wasn't fast enough: five days after leaving Madison, Dann shot the children and a young man nearby.
* When Laws Don't Suffice: The Winnetka shootings reopened a debate about institutionalizing mentally ill people against their will. Both Illinois and Wisconsin have strict commitment standards, which might have made it difficult to prove that Dann was dangerous. Critics say the law should be changed to allow involuntary commitment of a person who is determined to be mentally ill and unable to make an informed decision about treatment. But some mental-health experts and civil libertarians oppose the idea. "It would be a shame if we cut back on the civil liberties of literally millions of mentally ill people because of the occasional bizarre incident," says Benjamin Wolf, staff counsel for the ACLU of Illinois.
The Winnetka tragedy has also reawakened support of gun-control legislation. Because Dann had neither committed a felony nor had been in a mental institution in the previous five years, she obtained her three weapons legally. But just four days after the Winnetka tragedy, Illinois lawmakers voted down strict new handgun legislation.
* An Overprotective Family: On several occasions, Dann's parents, Norman and Edith Wasserman, intervened on their daughter's behalf. When Glencoe police asked him to persuade Dann to give up her .357 magnum, Norman Wasserman refused, saying she needed it as protection against her ex-husband. When several families for whom she baby-sat reported thefts and property damage, Wasserman denied her guilt but made restitution. Last summer he placated officials at Northwestern University, where Dann was about to be evicted from a campus apartment for turning her room into a health hazard and for leaving raw meat under cushions in public areas. Some authorities believe her parents acted irresponsibly in covering Dann's tracks. "The family was able to do things which blocked the normal processes" of the system, says Frank Kruesi, chief executive officer at the Cook County State's Attorney's office. "They were trying to shield her rather than protect her and do what's best for the community."
* The Limits of Modern Medicine: Dann was seeing psychiatrists in both Wisconsin and Illinois. But, says the ACLU's Wolf, "psychiatry doesn't claim to be clairvoyant." Indeed, a Glencoe detective who contacted one of Dann's doctors last year was told she was not harmful. Illinois investigators believe that her Madison psychiatrist was getting ready to start commitment proceedings. But even the most experienced doctors might have trouble detecting genuine homicidal tendencies. "Most patients who have thoughts like that are unwilling to share them with anyone," says Dr. Harold Visotsky, chairman of the psychiatry department at Northwestern University Medical School.
In the end, society may simply be unable to protect itself against random psychotic acts. "People like to think that the world is in control and that they're not just living at the whim of someone else," says Mark Heyrman, a visiting professor at Northwestern Law School. "But we are going to have these very rare events, and they don't necessarily require a response other than being upset and sorry." The people and agencies who encountered Dann on her fatal course may not find it so easy to be philosophical about having let a killer slip through their grasp.
GRAPHIC: Picture 1, Regrets about the one that got away: Police removing Dann's body after her suicide, MEINHARDT -- SIPA; Picture 2, Private demons, public acts: Dann in high school, police photo; Picture 3, Private demons, public acts: Dann in high school, police photo, MEINHARDT -- SIPA
By George Papajohn
Chicago Tribune - June 16, 2006
Laurie Dann's psychiatrist in Wisconsin was unaware of important information, which could have been provided by her parents, that might have helped commit her involuntarily, Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm said Wednesday.
Dr. John Greist, the psychiatrist in Madison, Wis., who treated Dann, was stunned when he learned after the shooting that she had bought three guns and that she had been in trouble with police-information that he might have used to build a case that she was dangerous and should be committed, according to Timm.
Dann stopped seeing Greist "on approximately March 18," according to the 10-page report. After that, the report said, Greist, who cooperated with police, discussed "his intention of committing Ms. Dann to a mental health facility. Unfortunately, insufficient data was available to this physician to substantiate a petition for involuntary commitment under Wisconsin law." Police believe she left Madison May 16.
By George Papajohn
Chicago Tribune - June 17, 1988
Laurie Dann's psychiatrist in Wisconsin was stunned to learn after Dann's May 20 shooting spree that she owned three guns and that she had been in trouble with police-information he might have used to build a case that she was dangerous and should be committed, Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm said Wednesday.
Her father, Norman Wasserman, of Glencoe, had appealed to his daughter to voluntarily commit herself to a hospital, Timm said. Timm made his comments in an interview after releasing a report on Dann based on the work of a police task force.
Because the Wassermans have been unavailable for interviews, Timm said, their side of the story has not been told, and the report fails to answer some questions involving Dann's deteriorating mental condition. The task force was set up after Dann's shooting spree May 20 left one dead and six wounded.
Too Few Tried To Help Laurie Dann
By Kristin Peter
Chicago Tribune - June 29, 1988
It has been several weeks since the incident involving Laurie Dann in Winnetka and I am still astounded by the reactions of the community.
I am a student at the University of Wisconsin who lived in the building where Laurie Dann resided. I saw her nearly every day, sometimes several times a day. I ate lunch and dinner at the same time she did and even had a few conversations with her. When I spoke with her she seemed shy and withdrawn and I kind of felt sorry for her.
There are many stories I could tell about the events which involved Laurie Dann in my dorm, events which were not noticed by just myself. I'm sure other residents observed her behavior.
Dann's Kin Named in 2D Lawsuit
By Rudolph Unger
Chicago Tribune - September 9, 2006
The father of an 8-year-old boy who was shot to death in his Winnetka classroom by Laurie Dann last May filed suit Thursday against Dann's parents, alleging they ignored a recommendation that their daughter be committed to a mental institution.
The negligence suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks an unspecified amount of damages "in excess of $15,000," from Dann's parents, Norman and Edith Wasserman, of Glencoe.
During the spree Dann first entered Hubbard Woods School at 1110 Chatfield Rd., Winnetka, and opened fire, wounding five pupils and killing Nicholas Corwin, a 2d grader. She next shot 20-year-old Philip Andrew in his Winnetka home. Dann then killed herself.
Park To Be Renamed For Dann Victim
By John Lucadamo
Chicago Tribune - September 23, 1988
Winnetka Park District board members Thursday night voted 5-2 to name a park in the North Shore village after Nicholas Corwin, the 8-year-old boy who was shot to death by Laurie Dann after she stormed into a Winnetka elementary school last May 20.
Edgewood Park, which is near the Corwin family home and is also where Nicholas used to play soccer, will be renamed Nick Corwin Park.
On Aug. 25, the board was presented with a petition containing about 1,000 signatures asking the board to rename the park in the northwestern corner of the village. The original park name came from Edgewood Lane, which dead-ends at the open field.
Chicago Tribune - November 5, 1988, News, pg. 6
Winnetka Police Chief Recounts Day of Horror
By Joseph Sjostrom
Chicago Tribune - December 4, 1988
When Laurie Dann went on her shooting spree in a Winnetka elementary school last May, Herbert Timm, police chief of the affluent North Shore suburb, was in church just a block and a half away.
Timm and other village officials were attending the funeral of a retired firefighter when they heard police sirens. Timm ducked out to a drugstore and called the police station to ask what was happening.
Minutes later Timm was kneeling in a classroom at the Hubbard Woods elementary school, cradling a wounded boy. "He was moaning, not screaming, and he was talking like little children talk. 'My tummy hurts so bad . . . I can't breathe . . . am I going to die, mister?' "
Reporters describe a young woman's descent into hell
By Eugene McCarthy
The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario) - October 13, 1990
Saturday City Edition - SECTION: BOOKS; Pg. H7
MURDER OF INNOCENCE, by Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn and Eric Zorn (Random
House, 335 pages, $26).
Undoubtedly, someone is working - or has completed - a book on the murders of 14 women at a Montreal polytechnical school last winter. The book will undoubtedly focus partly on the mental instablity of the man who caused their deaths. This book, by three Chicago Tribune journalists, Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn and Eric Zorn, examines another tragedy: the slaying of one boy and the wounding of five other students at a Chicago-area elementary school on May 20, 1988.
The authors look at the unhappy and muddled life of Laurie Wasserman Dann, the 30-year-old woman who did the shooting. She also attempted to poison at least 50 people the day of the shooting by leaving arsenic-spiked fruit juice at their residences.
She ended her rampage of hate by shooting herself when cornered in a private home.
Like all retrospective examinations of a major event, the tale of Laurie Dann is enhanced by the ability of the writers to gather together most of the known facts months after the event and weave them into a story that chronologically becomes much more interesting than the initial bits and pieces that emerge at the time.
In this way, the reporters have put together a fascinating story of a young woman's descent into madness over a prolonged period of time. The thought that will occur to every reader at the conclusion of the book is: why didn't someone do something?
The writers make it fairly clear that if anyone, other than Laurie Dann herself, was to blame for the tragedy, it has to be her parents. They, and particularly her father, are portrayed as having little or no insight into their daughter's problems particularly in her early and adolescent years.
That laissez-faire attitude has caused several lawsuits against them. One lawyer notes that the actions will have a significant bearing on the responsiblity of parents for the actions of adult children.
People who run amok like Dann don't often come from a totally unscathed background. The authors point to numerous instances over the years where authorities were warned about her erratic and harassing behavior. And, sadly, she was treated for mental disorders, but when there was an attempt to find out about them, patient confidentiality intervened.
While it's important to protect that, the shootings might have been avoided had officials been able to get more information about Dann from psychiatrists.
And, like other books about similar tragedies, the age-old controversy over gun laws in the U.S. is raised once again in this book.
Faced with ample evidence that a very sick individual was able to buy three handguns, legislation was amended in Illinois prohibiting "violent, suicidal, threatening or assaultive" individuals from having the necessary papers to own weapons.
The case of Laurie Dann was mimicked by two other individuals, once the following September in a South Carolina elementary school and the following January in a Stockton, Calif., schoolyard by gun-toting crazies.
And, of course, who will forget the Montreal massacre?
Murder of Innocence: The Tragic Life and Final Rampage of Laurie Dann
Publishers Weekly - 1990
Laurie Wasserman, the daughter of a startlingly unemotional mother and a workaholic father, grew up an isolated and unattractive child. Plastic surgery turned her into a beautiful young woman, popular with men, and she married Russell Dann. After her marriage, however, her behavior, which had included some eccentricities of a compulsive nature, became more and more bizarre and the marriage fell apart. Moving from college campus to college campus, passing herself off as a student, Laurie Dann became increasingly psychotic, making hundreds of phone calls to fancied enemies, degenerating physically and attempting to kill her estranged husband. While the lay people she encountered considered her extremely troubled, the suburban Chicago police and the psychiatrists she visited foresaw no danger; the authors, Chicago Tribune reporters, suggest that these latter groups were totally inept. Finally, on May 20, 1988, she went on a rampage that included arson, poisoning and shooting up an elementary school classroom in Illinois, after which she killed herself. This account of the complex and highly publicized case is memorable. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates.
A Tragedy Hits Home; Will Dann Teleplay Help Heal or Reopen Wounds?
By Ginny Holbert
Chicago Sun-Times - November 30, 1993
TUESDAY, Late Sports Final Edition - SECTION: SECTION2; FEATURES; Pg. 29
Murder of Innocence - WBBM-Channel 2, 8 to 10 p.m. Tuesday
When it comes to made-for-TV movies, taste is a function of time and distance. The closer we are to a real tragedy -- whether physically, emotionally or in terms of time passed -- the more tasteless it seems when one of the networks turns it into a movie. The NBC movie about Waco, Texas, for example, filmed as the hostage situation was still unfolding, seemed like a particularly tacky example of ratings-driven ambulance-chasing.
In that sense, "Murder of Innocence," a CBS movie based on Laurie Dann's 1989 shooting spree in a North Shore schoolroom, comes a little too close for comfort. It's possible, of course, that those who were directly affected by the tragedy will find closure or catharsis in the movie. I don't know. And it may be that gun control advocates will see in the story a clear argument for stricter gun laws, although NRA types may see an entirely different lesson.
It's also possible that the film will reopen old wounds in the name of morbid entertainment.
The movie, airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Channel 2, is based on the book of the same name by Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn and Eric Zorn. Although the movie gets most of the facts straight, names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent.
Valerie Bertinelli, queen of the TV B-movie, turns in a disturbing, convincing portrait of a woman disintegrating into madness. In the beginning, Dann (here renamed Laurie Wade) charms her new husband (Stephen Caffrey) with good looks and playful unpredictability. Within days of their marriage, she begins sending little signals of distress -- such as writing PAIN on the wall in lipstick, tearing up the bedroom and hiding in the closet with a butcher knife.
While her husband soon gets the picture, no one else seems to. A series of psychiatrists shows an appalling lack of intelligence and professionalism, but her parents are shown as the real culprits. It is never clear whether they are nuts themselves, are in heavy denial or are just mind-bogglingly stupid. Whatever it is, their insistence that everything is fine is fatal.
The acme of incomprehension is when Laurie calls her mother after going on a bloody rampage at a Winnetka grade school.
"It'll be all right, Laurie," says Mom. "I'm sure it will all work out."
Throughout, the dialogue is so banal you have to figure it's real. According to "Murder of Innocence," none of these people ever talked much to each other. But if the script is docudrama dull, the direction is surprisingly artsy for this kind of film. Director Tom McLoughlin uses a variety of techniques, including flashbacks, very tight close-ups and MTV-style cuts to illustrate Laurie's frightening decline.
Ultimately, though, we never gain any insight into why Laurie Dann was the way she was. The film suggests that Laurie, as an adorable but alienated child, stood in the schoolyard pretending to shoot her little playmates. Other than that, there is no explanation for her behavior, nor even a convincing diagnosis for her illness.
It may very well be that there simply is no explanation. No one ever understood what was going on in her mind or what her parents were thinking. It was incomprehensible when it happened, and it's no more understandable in the made-for-TV version.
GRAPHIC: Valerie Bertinelli is Laurie Wade -- a character based on Laurie Dann, who went on a shooting spree in a local school in 1989 -- in CBS' "Murder of Innocence."
Turmoil, reform hit schools
BY ROSALIND ROSSI
Many Chicago area schools--and parents--never were the same after 1988.
On May 20, a mentally unstable Glencoe baby-sitter named Laurie Dann opened fire on a second-grade classroom in Winnetka's Hubbard Woods School. One child was killed, and five were injured. Blood puddled the floor of Classroom 7, but Dann killed herself before explaining why.
As anxious parents milled outside, the principal emerged, covered in blood. He pointed in Agnew's direction. "I need to see you," he said. Agnew froze.
"Me?" a terror-stricken Agnew said. It turned out, however, that he was pointing to another mom, whose daughter was one of those shot. "Both our knees, I know, were shaking," Agnew said.
The nation shook as well; murder had pierced the sanctity of the classroom. And it happened in the well-manicured, stately North Shore suburb of Winnetka.
The incident was the first of a string of fatal school shootings that stunned the country through the end of the 1990s. But in its immediate aftermath, Agnew recalled, "All of a sudden, doors were locked" at Chicago area schools. Visitors were screened. Three suburbs passed handgun bans that year. The shooting prompted gun debates nationwide.
Mayor Daley (left) seated with Gov. James R. Thompson (right) as he signed the Chicago school reform law.Meanwhile, drastic change was brewing for the Chicago public school system--the nation's third-largest.
Parental anger had boiled over the year before when schools were idled by a 19-day teachers strike--the ninth since 1970--and U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett labeled Chicago schools the "worst in the nation." Nearly half of the students who entered Chicago high schools were not graduating.
That spring, as city parents and businessmen joined forces to demand school reform, nine outraged Chicago aldermen helped "arrest" a painting of the late Mayor Harold Washington donned in women's undergarments. That summer, the city sweltered through 100-degree heat. By summer's end, on the North Side, the Chicago Cubs got lights--only to be rained out on their inaugural night.
By fall, Gov. James R. Thompson signed the Chicago school reform law, giving parents more power than anywhere else in the nation. They had a majority vote on local school councils that hired and fired principals and oversaw what grew to be $450,000 a year in spending in the average elementary school.
In 1988, Natividad Hernandez's daughter had classes in a rat-infested mobile trailer at Chicago's severely overcrowded Hammond School. Other classes met in the basement. "I remember a special education class in a closet . . . with no windows at all," Hernandez said. Kids were using 25-year-old books.
But after the 1988 legislation passed, Hernandez was among more than 5,000 residents elected to local school councils. She even was named president of her LSC. Like three-quarters of the schools in the first four years of reform, Hammond changed principals--but only after a fight.
The new principal brought in new books, new teachers and new programs for kids. Flexing new political muscle, Hernandez and other LSC members lobbied for another school. It opened in 1995--the year lawmakers amended the reform law to solve nagging financial and academic problems. LSCs stayed, but Mayor Daley was given control of the city's schools in reform's "second wave."
By then, reform had changed not only Hammond, but Hernandez, a native of Mexico, and many like her. She learned English through a new Hammond program for parents. She got a job. Reform, said Hernandez, "changed my whole life."
The Education of A Crusader
By Jennifer Halperin
Northern Illinois University - December 1993 / Illinois Issues / 11
In the five years since Laurie Dann shot him in the chest, Philip Andrew has learned a lot about life, his government, and the pervasive reach of violence in society
Like most 26-year-olds, Philip J. Andrew still has much to learn about the world. But he has received an education in real life during the last five years that most people never get or want.
The education of Phil Andrew began early on May 20, 1988, the first day of a summer break that looked especially promising for him. A 20-year-old student, he had arrived home the previous evening in the tony Chicago suburb of Winnetka from his junior year at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Andrew had been training all year with the college swim team and felt, he recalls, "in the best shape of my life" more than ready for the competitive swim meets scheduled for the summer. Even more exciting for him were the two internships he had lined up: one in U.S. Rep. John Porter's office, the other working for the Lake County state's attorney. By all appearances, he was laying the groundwork for a future involved in public service.
Andrew was sitting in the kitchen of his family's comfortable home talking to his mother, Ruth Ann, when an unwelcome visitor arrived at the back door. Her name was Laurie Dann, and she would turn his plans for the summer upside down and alter the course of his life. Dann, a name many Illinoisans never will forget, had just left Hubbard Woods Elementary School, where she had shot several children. Eight-year-old Nicholas Corwin, who was shot in a second-grade classroom, died; five others survived their wounds. Police already were searching the neighborhood for Dann when she entered the Andrews' large home, clad in a T-shirt, shower curtain and plastic garbage bag, and carrying two handguns.
At first, Andrew and his mother were sympathetic toward Dann, who told them she had been sexually assaulted and was afraid she would be in trouble with police because she shot her attacker. But it soon became apparent Dann's story made little sense. Dann allowed Ruth Ann to leave the house to wait outside for her two daughters' return from high school. Andrew's father, Raymond, also was allowed to leave when his son promised Dann he would stay.
At a moment when she seemed to let her guard down, Andrew grabbed one of her guns, a .22-caliber semiautomatic Beretta, and removed the magazine. But when Dann heard police outside the house, she told Andrew she wanted him to stay with her. Then, without warning, she shot him point-blank in the right side of his chest.
The bullet punctured both of his lungs, severed his esophagus and ripped through his stomach and pancreas before lodging in the left side of his back. His lungs began to deflate. Andrew dived into a pantry to reload the Beretta, then held it aloft to cover himself as he ran from the house.
Outside, Andrew collapsed in his family's driveway. Inside, Dann went to a bedroom, put the barrel of her .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in her mouth and committed suicide.
Thus began Philip Andrew's education about the violent nature of modern America, about the way his government really works, about shootings so epidemic that some people no longer regard them as a crime issue but rather as a public health menace.
'Murder junky' posts fake Dann profile - 'Sick,' says top cop at time of '88 school rampage
Chicago Sun Times - September 25, 2006
BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporter
The ordinary looking profile on MySpace.com says the 48-year-old woman from Glencoe enjoys "baby-sitting and would someday like to be a schoolteacher."
But the profile notes, "I am a bit crazy and suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.''
The profile is for Laurie Wasserman Dann, who in 1988 walked into a public school classroom in north suburban Winnetka and shot six children, wounding five and killing one. She later killed herself. The profile includes a black-and-white photo.
The profile was one of 111 million on the social networking site used by teenagers and others worldwide to communicate with friends and meet new people. But it was also one of several purporting to be posted by dead killers, including John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer.
This phony profile of Laurie Dann, whose rampage ended in her suicide, was removed after MySpace officials were notified of it. Similar profiles of dead serial killers John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer remained as of Sunday night, however.
Herb Timm, who was Winnetka's police chief at the time of the gruesome crime, said the profile was "terribly offensive. That sickens me.''
Timm said whoever created the profile is "one insensitive sick person.''
After being informed of the Dann profile Saturday by the Chicago Sun-Times, MySpace officials removed it.
It's 'about having fun'
"These profiles are imposter profiles,'' a spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "The profile has been deleted. We remove imposter profiles when they are brought to our attention.''
The spokeswoman later said such postings were rare and accounted for "a very small percentage'' of profiles.
However, the "imposter'' behind the Dann profile is apparently "Jason," a 33-year-old white male who responded to queries from the Sun-Times.
In an e-mail, the man said he created the account because he is a "murder junky'' who reads tons of true-crime books. He chose Dann because of the obscurity -- many other killers already had profiles.
"That case always stuck in my head since I was about 14,'' he said. "Plus I thought I could have fun with this character. You know, the clingy, crazy bitch thing.''
Jason said "myspace is about having fun. Creating profiles and taking their personalities online.''
He also maintains a site for Gacy, which is far more graphic than the one for Dann.
He said he expected someone to take offense to the Dann site -- he has already had two other profiles removed.
"I really mean no disrespect," Jason said in a subsequent e-mail, claiming he's from Fort Atkinson, Wis. "...I'm not a mean-spirited person, I just have a sick sense of humor."
'Your cat can have a page'
MySpace officials said they can also remove profiles for offensive content, hate speech or nudity. As of Sunday night, sites for Gacy and Dahmer had not been removed.
One of the "friends" listed on the Dann site was the metal band Macabre, a Chicago trio that has recorded several songs about serial killers in its 20 years together.
Band manager Rodney Pawlak of Chicago said he wasn't sure why the band was listed as a friend, but he noted the group does have a song about Dann.
He said the group uses MySpace to help promote its music and sell merchandise.
He said the sites and the music appeal to "a whole subculture for true crime.''
Pawlak noted the ease of creating a false profile on MySpace.
"You can be whoever you want to be,'' he said. "Your cat can have a page, too.''
Pawlak said he didn't believe the music was offensive.
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Last Updated: 10/14/2006
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