Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laurie Show

Michelle Becomes Lisa

Lisa Michelle Lambert
Lisa Michelle Lambert

At the time of the Show killing and her first trial, Lisa Michelle Lambert was easy to think of as a bully capable of murder. She was a loud, rough girl from a lower class Lancaster family, heavily made up and provocatively dressed. Neighbors called her white trash. By her 1997 appeal, she had let her bleached hair go back to its natural brown, and, with Rainville's help, she dressed down. She was quieter, almost demure, and determined to seem respectable. Saying that she'd gone by her middle name, Michelle, to please Yunkin, she started calling herself Lisa again.

Her relationship with Butch, she claimed, had been violent and unpredictable. The met at a public swimming pool in 1990, and started off just as he and Laurie would the next summer — after a few dates, Michelle claimed, he raped her in his van, parked right in front of her parents' home. Michelle stayed with her handsome blond roofer and lumberyard worker. Her family followed a strict Christian morality; and she claimed to have thought it was better to stick with the boy who raped her but might marry her, and to wear skimpy clothing to please him as a properly submissive woman. Or maybe Butch's power over her was just that strong.

Lawrence
Lawrence "Butch"
Yunkin

The domineering young man determined what she wore, she claimed, and he wouldn't let her learn to drive or return to high school. They fought frequently, and he beat her regularly. Their sex life was marked by terror she recalled: he would cut his cheeks and tower above her in bed, bleeding on her, and he brutally sodomized her at least once, according to her mother, who found the bloodied sheets after a hysterical call from Michelle.

Domestic violence expert Ann Burgess would testify that Michelle had become incapable of leaving Butch. She suffered from battered woman syndrome. She taunted Laurie to keep the other girl away — and to please her man. But murder, she claimed, was not part of Michelle's plan. Michelle said that Tabitha had stabbed Laurie, and that she had tried to stop her. Failing, she fled, but Butch stopped her at the condo stairway.

That explanation satisfied Judge Dalzell. On April 15, 1997, he freed Michelle, saying not only that there was enough prosecutorial misconduct to call her guilty verdict into question, but that she was in fact innocent. In an unusual and controversial decision, he barred Pennsylvania from retrying her. There were indeed irregularities in the police and prosecution's handling of the case, but this — and Michelle's claims of innocence — would be further complicated as the case dragged on and on.

 

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