“Killer Instinct” – Strangehold – Who Killed Dana Laskowski?
Payallup, Washington – 2001
Dana Laskowski was strangled to death on August 31, 2001. On the surface, the vivacious, 36-year-old single mom with triplets appeared to have no enemies.
Dana was found in her home, lying face down on her couch, covered with a blanket and a pillow, with her arm twisted behind her back. There were abrasions to her face, lower jaw and especially her neck. In addition, because there were also abrasions to her knees, investigators concluded that Dana was killed on the floor and then placed on the couch.
Investigators hired Mark Safarik to make more sense of it.
When Safarik took a look inside and outside of the vacant home of Dana Laskowski, he noticed, from the crime photos, that the killer passed by a set of knives that were located near the back door. Since the knives were not touched, the crime was not premeditated. Safarik concluded that Dana knew the suspect, let the suspect in her home and did not know that the suspect would eventually attack her.
Who killed Dana Laskowski? Was it the biker guy she was romantically involved with? Was it her ex-husband, a man she left after she gave birth to her triplets? Eventually, both men were dismissed as suspects.
It was time to ask a different set of questions. “What’s her history? What might make her a target?”
Although Dana Laskowski was a mother of triplets, she enjoyed hanging around with much younger people, and she enjoyed smoking and drinking with them. One of the people she spent a lot of time with was her 17-year-old niece Amanda. Amanda was a troubled girl who had little contact with her mother and stepmother and who hung out with a group of teens called “Park Rats.” These teens skipped school, hung around the park and smoke and drank. Dana took Amanda under her wing and showed her the love and attention she didn’t get from her parents.
But there was another teen, Emily Lauenborg, a close friend of Amanda’s. Emily was much stronger than most girls her age. She won weight lifting competitions, and she could throw men to the floor. Emily and Amanda used drugs and drank together. To get money for substances, they would strip at a local strip club. Amanda’s close relationship with her aunt made Emily not only jealous, but angry.
“Dana saw the relationship between Emily and Amanda as destructive for Amanda,” said Safarik.
When Emily’s home was searched, a journal was found. “I wish I could strangle Amanda just like her aunt,” was written inside. In addition, a black top that belonged to Dana Laskowski was hanging in the closet. Emily wore the top to the funeral.
Although Amanda lied about the event at first, eventually she cracked. She said that she and Emily went over to Dana’s house to harass her for money for drugs. Emily would not take no for an answer and exploded into a rage. She used a controlling move on Dana by twisted her arm around her back and throwing her on the sofa. Then Emily strangled her.
On March 13, 2002, Emily Lauenborg was charged with first degree murder and faced 20 years. Later, she signed a plea deal for first degree manslaughter and got 7 years for the murder of Dana Laskowski. She served 5 1/2.
“Killer Instinct” is a unique true crime series, on CLOO, hosted by Mark Safarik, a former FBI Profiler and a leading expert on criminal behavior.
Jolie du Pre reports on TRUE CRIME at Gather News.