Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder, they blogged


When she was 13, Rachelle maintains, she told her mother she'd been raped. Her mother, she claimed, didn't believe her, thinking it was just one of Rachelle's wild excuses for breaking her curfew. The family never reported the incident, but, if it did happen, this unfortunate event would not have been the only time that young Rachelle would be the object of sexual aggression by her elders.

Jason Arrant
Jason Arrant
State troopers found nine explicit photos of Rachelle on Arrant's computer. Sending pornography over the Internet is a federal offense, and he admitted another crime: having sex with Rachelle before she turned 16. They did not turn up written evidence of the murder plot, but they did find a series of letters from Arrant that detailed his graphic sexual fantasies and included the janitor's pleas to hear the schoolgirl's own fantasies. She never responded.

Defense attorneys would paint Rachelle as the victim of an adult's sexual machinations, claiming that Arrant was a lonely, conniving man desperate to preserve a rare sexual connection. An confused girl might easily get swept into an older, domineering partner's scheme and lie for himand she might just as easily be bullied by police into telling them what they wanted to hear in a clumsy effort to ingratiate herself.

There are indeed holes in the stories that Rachelle told the investigators, which they taped (and she would later retract). For one thing: why did Arrant and Radel go through the trouble of breaking in through the garage? Had she been helping them to plan the killing, especially under the guise of a drunk driving accident, she could have told them how she habitually sneaked in and out of a family room window, or simply told them where the family stowed the spare key they kept outside for emergencies.

Brian Radel
Brian Radel
It's quite plausible that the impetus behind the dastardly murder of Lauri Waterman was all Arrant's, that he tricked or bullied his loyal friend Radel and either coerced Rachelle or kept her ignorant of his intent. Both men testified against Rachelle as part of plea deals. Arrant's sentence was halved in exchange for his cooperationand media reports indicated Rachelle's jury did not find him a trustworthy witness in any event.

Radel would assert that Arrant's talk of Rachelle's mother's abusive ways, combined with his desire to prove himself a good friend to them both, drew him into the plot. He says that he gained none of his knowledge of Rachelle's supposed need for protection or desire for revenge from her directly. Everything was filtered through his "blood brother" Arrant. In a Dateline interview after their trials, Radel announced that he didn't think Rachelle actually wanted her mother killed.

So perhaps Rachelle was just an unhappy, conflicted teen, whose airings of grievances with her mother were only the sparks to a terrible, lust-fueled crime by a lonely and maladjusted manor maybe her manipulative skills let her fool Radel and stump the jury.