America's Most Wanted|
Posted Aug 31, 2005
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America's Most Wanted (AMW) has helped so many victims and their families through their hard work and dedication to victims. Our family would like to thank all of the many people who work for AMW for their tireless help and tremendous work. We are eternally grateful - thank you.
Following is a piece they recently posted about Kristin:
"Brutal Rest Stop Murder A Mystery"
"Family and friends say Kristin loved adventure. When adventurous 25-year-old Kristin Laurite planned a trip across the country all alone, it didn't surprise or frighten her family -- they say it was in her nature to pursue adventure. But the cross country trip would end up breaking their hearts and changing their lives forever.
In August of 2000, Laurite packed up her yellow Volkswagon bus with some belongings and her best travel companions -- her dogs Winter and Setiva. The Scotch Plains, NJ resident made her way west via Interstate 40 and decided to take a break at a rest stop in Morrilton, Arkansas on Aug. 25.
Kristin made a quick call to her mother to let her know she was OK. That was the last time they would speak.
The next day Kristin's mom Lynn got another phone call -- but it was from a stranger. Someone had found Kristin's dogs wandering around the site and called the phone number listed on the tags on their collars. Lynn asked the man to look for Kristin, but she was nowhere to be found.
They soon discovered Kristin's dogs. The animals were barking, but wouldn't move from the area where the couple spotted them.
A Search Begins With Hope, Ends With Horror
Kristin was only 25 when she was killedA pair of truck drivers stopped at the rest area not long after word got out that a woman had disappered from the area. The couple decided to scan a wooded area just behind the rest stop.
While their search began with hope, it ended in horror. They soon discovered Kristin's dogs. The animals were barking, but wouldn't move from the area where the couple spotted them.
That's when they saw a body, laying naked and face-down.
Search For a Suspect Intensifies
Ward is serving life in prison for another murderPolice started investigating and say someone stabbed Kristin in the throat several times, then left her for dead. The news was so shocking to Kristin's family, they could hardly believe someone could take the life of such a free-spirited fun-loving woman with so much life ahead of her.
Kristin's family joined forces with police to stop this killer. And on July 22, 2005 police announced their hard work may have paid off. Arkansas police say they've made a major break in the murder mystery with the help of DNA evidence.
Investigators say they've linked DNA from the crime scene to a Montana prisoner. Ronald James Ward, 38, is already serving a life sentence for murdering a homeless man in October of 2000.
And while he has not been formally charged in Kristin's death, Conway County Sheriff Mark Flowers says on July 19, 2005, he got a call alerting him that Ward's DNA matched DNA collected nearly five years ago from the place where Kristin's naked body was left for dead.
Police say Ward has also been linked to at least two other homicides in California. One victim was a homeless woman from Modesto, California. The other victim was a disabled woman from Merced named Jackie Travis. Police say in 2002 they linked Jackie and Kristin's murders by DNA, but could not pinpoint the killer's identity.
Because the investigation is still ongoing, Flowers could not offer details about who made the connection between Ward and Kristin. But he said he'd give more details about the mystery as the investigation continues.
The bittersweet announcement brought both pain and joy to Kristin's family, who had been searching for answers in the five years since her murder.
In a statement, her mother wrote: "Although this is the day we have long awaited, it opens the deep wounds with renewed intensity."'