Local News

Roommates remember last moments with murdered Shaw student

Posted February 23, 2016 1:07 p.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2016 5:46 p.m. EST

— Almost 20 years after Shaw University student Lacoy McQueen disappeared, testimony began Tuesday in the trial of the man accused in her murder.

Edwin Christopher Lawing, a Concord man, is charged with first-degree murder in McQueen’s death.

McQueen, 20, was reported missing May 17, 1996, when she never returned to her dorm room after she told her roommate she was meeting Lawing at North Carolina State University's Bell Tower. A construction crew discovered her remains off U.S. Highway 1 near Kittrell nine months later.

Lawing, an N.C. State student at the time, was initially arrested in the case, but prosecutors dismissed a murder charge against him because of a lack of evidence.

He was charged again in December 2014 after investigators who refused to give up on the case used scientific tests not available in the 1990s to once again connect him to the murder.

Immediately following opening statements Tuesday, McQueen's college roommate, Stephanie Jeffries Jones, took the stand. She said McQueen was pregnant, and that she and Lawing had been arguing about the pregnancy when she disappeared.

"(Lawing) said it was going to ruin his life," Jones said. "He was going into the military. He was the grandson of a prominent family. I guess they expected more from him or something."

Through tears, Jones said she remembered the day she found out her friend was expecting.

"We talked about whether or not she was going to keep the baby and how she was going to finish school with a baby," she said. "We were so close, we came up with a plan - this was going to be our baby. ... We were going to help take care of the baby."

Jones and another friend, Barbara Carter, testified to overhearing a phone call between McQueen and Lawing.

"He told her he wanted to have an abortion and that he would go with her and videotape it, and they would watch it together and then destroy it," Carter said.

Jones said McQueen started crying and hung up the phone.

Jones also talked about May 16, 1996 - the last day she saw her friend.

"(McQueen) was getting dressed. She was getting ready to go meet (Lawing)," she said. "She was going to give him her final statement...to tell him she was going to keep the baby."

Jones said McQueen planned to meet him in a public place and carried only 50 cents for bus fare, an umbrella, a school ID and keys.

Carter said that Lawing later called looking for McQueen.

"It pissed me off," she said. "It just upset me because I had an overwhelming feeling of not believing him.”

Former N.C. State police officer Greg Franklin echoed that sentiment Tuesday afternoon. He said that, when he first interviewed Lawing, he did not believe him.

"(Lawing) was sweaty, nervous, he paced incessantly, and he never once, not once, looked me in the eyes. It gave me rise to be suspicious," Franklin said.

Testimony will continue at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and will be available on WRAL.com.