Everyone pretty much knows everyone else in Craig, Alaska, a town of about 1,400 on a picturesque island accessible only by boat or plane.
But even if its residents didn’t know everybody in the fall of 2004, they likely knew the Watermans.
Dad Carl “Doc” Waterman was a real estate agent who served as president of the local school board. Mom Lauri was a well-liked civic volunteer with the Girl Scouts and Little League and a special education teacher’s aide. Daughter Rachelle was a 16-year-old high school honors student who played volleyball and sang in the school choir.
Lauri’s disappearance and murder in November 2004 — the subject of Monday night’s People Magazine Investigates, on Investigation Discovery — sent the community reeling amid panic about a killer among them.
Even more startling was the subsequent allegation raised by police and prosecutors that Rachelle had set the slaying in motion. Here are five things to know about the case.
Rachelle Waterman in court in March 2006.Juneau Empire/Brian Wallace/AP
Lauri WatermanCourtesy Waterman Family/ZUMAPRESS.com
1. Beneath the Sunny Surface, Rachelle Felt Tension at Home
Teenage existence in any small town can feel isolating. Rachelle vented her frustrations on a blog she titled “My Crappy Life,” on which she referred to Craig as “Hell, Alaska.”
She went through a goth phase, dressing in black with nail polish to match. She posed for a photo wearing a dog collar. “I am nothing,” she wrote on her blog. “I am not who I was created to be. I have become who they wanted me to be,” a reference to parents against whom she rebelled, including a mother who she claimed was critical of Rachelle’s weight.
“One thing that became really obvious as you read Rachelle’s blog is just how much she was, for lack of a better word, an immature 15-year-old,” her defense attorney, Steven Wells, says in Monday’s PMI episode. “Things are either really good, or they’re really, really bad.”
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Adding fuel to Rachelle’s conflicts at home was her choice of a boyfriend: Jason Arrant, in his mid-20s, a high school janitor who liked to stay up late playing video games and who lived in his mom’s basement.
Says PEOPLE Executive Editor Kaye Coyne in the episode: “It’s not surprising Lauri was not thrilled with this being her daughter’s boyfriend — a guy who is nearly a decade older, who doesn’t seem to have any real goals for the rest of his life.”
Jason Arrant in court in November 2004.Ketchikan Daily News/Tom Miller/AP
2. Jason Arrant Had a ‘Blood Brother’ Who Would Carry Out the Crime
Arrant met Brian Radel when both were 16. In his mid-20s, Radel had also met and briefly dated Rachelle, until the age difference caused him to end their courtship.
“The one person that I trusted at the time was Jason, so I introduced them,” Radel says on PMI.
The bond between the two men went deep. Radel called Arrant my “blood brother.”
“Everything that was mine was Jason’s, everything that was Jason’s was mine; If Jason ever asked me for anything I would do it for him,” Radel says. “It was a very absolute agreement.”
RELATED: What to Know About the Lauri Waterman Case
3. The Killers Acted Because They Believed Rachelle Was in Danger
Rachelle’s blog posts showed flashes of anger at Lauri, including the suggestion that her mother had knocked her down the stairs. “Rachelle called Jason, very upset,” Radel says. “There was some sort of violent altercation between Rachelle and her mother.”
Radel says Arrant told him, “There’s abuse going on, Rachelle’s life was in jeopardy. Her mom might kill her.”
“As a result,” Radel says, “I was willing to go all the way.”
4. Lauri Waterman’s Murder Was Not the First Attempt on Her Life
Moved to action by his friend Arrant’s request to help, Radel laid out a plan.
He knew Lauri routinely went to school to pick up Rachelle after volleyball practice. He said he grabbed his rifle and stationed himself outside of the school to wait for her.
“Rachelle called Jason, and he told her, ‘I’ve sent Brian out and he’s going to shoot your mom,” says Rachelle’s attorney, Wells. “Rachelle’s like, ‘Wait, wait, what?! No, no, don’t do this!’ ”
There was no time to deter him. But as Radel prepared to shoot, he discovered he’d forgotten the bolt for his rifle. He had to call it off.
Brian Radel in court in January 2006.Juneau Empire/Brian Wallace/AP
5. Rachelle Knew About the Plot to Kill Her Mom But Was Too ‘Scared’ to Stop It
After pleading guilty to murder, Arrant testified about his girlfriend at her trial. He said, “She said that she thought it would be better if her mother wasn’t around anymore.”
Asked to clarify, he added: “She thought it would be better if her mother was dead.”
As Radel later explained, during a weekend when he’d been alerted that both Rachelle and her dad would be out of town, he entered the Waterman home and found Lauri alone.
He said he made her drink wine to raise her blood-alcohol level, then placed her on the floor of her minivan and drove it to a remote woodland road, where Arrant met him. They planned to stage a drunk-driving accident.
Raid said he suffocated Lauri, and the van was set on fire. A hunter who say smoke alerted authorities the next day and the vehicle and human remains eventually were identified.
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At school before the van was found, Rachelle told teachers that her mom likely had gotten drunk and driven off the road. Challenged later by police, who alleged she knew that was the plan, Rachelle protested, “It’s what I assumed!”
“You knew it was going to happen, and you didn’t do anything to stop it,” pressed an officer whose interrogation was recorded on video.
Breaking down, Rachelle answered through tears, “I told them not to do it.”
“And after you knew — ”
“I told them not to do it!”
” — you didn’t do anything to stop it.”
“I was scared!” Rachelle said.
The People Magazine Investigates episode on Lauri’s death, “The Darkest of Nights,” airs Monday night (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.
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