Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: The Amy St. Laurent Case

Story Unravels

Gorman struck investigators as curiously skittish for someone who phoned them as a volunteer witness in a missing person case. He put off a police officer's request to take a polygraph exam, saying he should see a lawyer first. He also said he was too busy to allow police forensic experts to inspect his car, the last place that Amy St. Laurent was known to have been.

Police decided to interview Gorman's roommates, seeking collaboration of his account of Amy St. Laurent's visit to their home. Gorman had added a couple of details to his alibi. He said roommate Jason Cook had been on the computer when he got home, sending an email message to Cook's aunt in Florida. Gorman also said he recalled making a phone call, but couldn't remember to whom. Police inspected the computers of both Cook and the aunt but found no such email. Nor could they find a record of Gorman's late-night phone call.

But an interview with another roommate, Dave Grazier, transformed Russ Gorman from a person of interest into the leading suspect. Grazier said he and his girlfriend, Dawn Shimrich, went out for an early breakfast after midnight on the Sunday morning when Amy St. Laurent had supposedly visited their apartment. When they got home between 3:00 and 3:15 a.m., Gorman wasn't thereeven though he had claimed to police that he had been home by 2:00 a.m. Grazier also said he had woken up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. that morning to use the bathroom and found Gorman there, washing up. Gorman was fully clothed, as though he had just arrived home, Grazier said.

Police pressed roommate Kush Sharma to submit to a polygraph exam on his statement that Gorman had been back home by 2:00 a.m. after dropping off Amy. Facing the machine, Sharma changed his story. He now said he could only be certain that Gorman was home at 4:15 a.m.

These contradictions gave new urgency to investigators' desire to search Gorman's car, a red Pontiac sedan that was notoriously filthy inside and out. But there was a twist there, as well. Matt Despins, a friend of Gorman's roommates, called police with a tip that, out of the blue, within 36 hours of Amy St. Laurent's disappearance, Gorman had done a deluxe, bumper-to-bumper detail job on the car.

Gorman's Car Door with Fabric Removed
Gorman's Car Door with Fabric Removed

Gorman's Trunk
Gorman's Trunk

Gorman had undergone a personal makeover, as well. When first interviewed by police, he had maintained a wholesome look, with fashionably coiffed hair and a certain boyishness. Two weeks later, he had gone from All-American to looking like a roadie for a heavy metal band, with multiple piercings, a shaved head and several new tattoos.

Gorman's Bumper
Gorman's Bumper

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