Lauri Waterman's murder in Alaska will be featured on the next episode of People Magazine Investigates on Investigation Discovery
In the fall of 2004 Rachelle Waterman shared a family life that appeared anchored and happy — until murder shattered that facade.
Her dad, Carl “Doc” Waterman, was a a real estate agent and president of the school board in small-town Craig, Alaska. Her mom, Lauri, was a special education teacher’s aide who volunteered with her church and other civic groups. Rachelle, then 16, was a student-athlete who sang in the school choir, played volleyball and competed in an academic decathlon.
But as revealed in the next episode of People Magazine Investigates, airing Monday night on Investigation Discovery, beneath the surface of Rachelle’s life there was tension.
Lauri, 48, went missing in November 2004 and her remains were found in her minivan, which had been abandoned in the woods and set on fire. Investigators then began sifting through clues — settling on mother-daughter conflict as a motive for her killing and advancing a startling theory:
Rachelle was arrested on charges that she had her mother murdered by her older boyfriend and his friend. She was found guilty of negligent homicide and sentenced to three years in prison. She was released from prison in 2015 and remains on probation.
Key evidence of the plot was provided by Rachelle’s online journal, titled “My Crappy Life,” which described the struggles with her mom.
“A lot of the ramblings and rantings on the blog are pretty typical teenage girl stuff,” PEOPLE Executive Editor Kate Coyne explains on Monday’s PMI episode. “But if you scratch the surface a little bit, there seems to be a current of anger that maybe goes beyond just your typical adolescent ranting.”
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“Well, I’m grounded,” Rachelle posted on June 14, 2004, five months before Lauri’s killing. “Last night my mom went psycho b—- on me. I even got to fly down the stairs,” she wrote, suggesting she’d been pushed and describing her then current mood as “sore.”
Two months earlier, on April 6, 2004, Rachelle listed her mood as “angry,” writing, “I had a bad night, and a bad day. This is my warning to all of you. If you piss me off, you die.”
Rachelle’s world was undermined by feelings of isolation she had begun to feel in Craig, a tiny town of 1,400. She wrote that her mother was critical of her weight. For a time she dressed all in black, with black nail polish to match, and when she picked out a black velvet dress for prom, her mother told her “I couldn’t pull it off,” she wrote.
Some of Rachelle’s friendships also attracted her mother’s notice.
Around age 15 or 16, Rachelle met and briefly dated Brian Radel, who was then in his early 20s. Concern about the age difference led Radel to end the relationship — but not before he introduced Rachelle to his friend, Jason Arrant, who was about the same age at Radel.
The relationship took off between Rachelle and Jason, a janitor at a local high school who lived in his mother’s basement.
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“It’s not surprising Lauri was not thrilled with this being her daughter’s boyfriend — a guy who is nearly a decade older, who doesn’t seem to have any real goals for the rest of his life,” Coyne says.
The alleged conflicts with her mother that Rachelle related to Jason, who then shared his concerns about Rachelle’s safety with his friend Brian Radel, planted the seed for Lauri to be kidnapped and killed while her daughter and husband were away, according to prosecutors who brought all three suspects to trial.
Arrant and Radel pleaded guilty to murder and testified against Rachelle.
The People Magazine Investigates episode on Lauri’s death, “The Darkest of Nights,” airs Monday night (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.