Laramie, a small city in Wyoming, was violently shaken when a young woman named Shelli Wiley was found gruesomely murdered in her apartment in 1985. So brutal was the crime that even the investigators were left stunned as they examined the crime scene. The podcast ‘Serial: The Coldest Case in Laramie’ delves into this mind-bending homicide, which remained a mystery for over three decades until a shocking revelation gave the police their first breakthrough. Now, if you wish to learn more about the puzzling details of this case, we have you covered.
How Did Shelli Wiley Die?
Born on December 18, 1962, Shelli Rene Wiley grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, with her family, including her mother, Vicki Seifert, and sister, Lauri Cruz. She graduated from the only high school in the city — Laramie High and enrolled at the University of Wyoming for further studies. Loved ones remember Shelli as a beautiful and charming individual with a zest for life and big dreams for her future. Sadly, her and her family’s hopes were shattered one fateful night in the Fall of 1985.
At that time, Shelli was a 22-year-old college student and used to wait tables at Foster’s, a truck stop, to save money. She lived in an apartment complex near her workplace with her roommate, Michelle Gilbert. On October 20, 1985, Shelli’s sister, Lauri, and another friend dropped by her apartment in the afternoon, and the three chatted for a while over tea. Once evening came, the two women left as the 22-year-old had to wake up early the following day for her work shift. On the other hand, Michelle was away that night with her boyfriend, so Shelli was alone in the apartment.
That was the last time Lauri saw her sister alive, as early the next morning, neighbors in the complex were alerted by smoke and flames coming out of her apartment. As a few people tried rescuing her unsuccessfully, the police and the firefighters arrived to witness a nightmarish scene before them. Shelli lay dead on her apartment floor, and the entire living room and the front door were severely burned. An autopsy soon revealed that the 22-year-old had been stabbed 11 times, including in her lung. Moreover, her neck was cut to the bone, seemingly causing her death.
Who Killed Shelli Wiley?
The investigation for Shelli’s murder was challenging as the police had zero leads and little evidence. However, upon examining the crime scene, they noticed signs of struggle and blood on the sidewalk outside. Hence, it established that the victim had tried to escape her attacker and run outside the apartment but was forcefully dragged inside before being fatally stabbed. Besides, the perpetrator had likely caused the fire to cover up their tracks. When detectives began questioning Shelli’s neighbors, they came across the apartment two doors down and bumped into Fredrick James Lamb.
A former Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy and officer with the Laramie Police Department, Fred was married and lived elsewhere but would visit his friend each weekend at Shelli’s apartment complex. Incidentally, he was also a regular at Foster’s and had interacted a couple of times with the victim and her roommate. When questioned, Fred allegedly seemed unaffected by the incident and insisted that he had nothing to do with it. In addition, a neighbor who frantically tried to get Shelli out of the burning apartment even claimed on the podcast that Fred refused to help him do so.
According to the podcast, the man insisted that Fred was a potential suspect to the investigators. Still, they allegedly dismissed his claims stating that the latter was a law enforcement officer. Although, later reports claimed that when he was questioned immediately after the murder, Fred had a cut on his hand, and his apartment door had blood splatter. Not just that, Shelli’s roommate stated on the podcast that a matchbook found in his truck had an unidentified bloody thumbprint on it. Nevertheless, Fred was allowed to leave town for work soon after and was never questioned again.
The podcast stated that some other suspects the police looked at included Shelli’s former boyfriend, Allyn Griffin, and Angelo Garcia, who was accused of being a co-conspirator by an incarcerated man who allegedly confessed to the crime in 1987. Nevertheless, the detectives could not find evidence connecting them to the murder, so they were let go. Apart from this, a teenager reportedly confessed to killing Shelli shortly after the incident, but the charges against him were dropped in 1991 after he recanted his statement. Later in 1994, DNA tests were performed on a convicted rapist in Utah; still, the police could not find any relevant information.
Gradually, the investigation for Shelli’s murder slowed, and no substantial progress was made. Surprisingly, the case turned on its head around thirty-one years later, in August 2016, when Fred Lamb was suddenly arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson. The charges were based on some DNA matches the detectives found between him and the blood found on the murder scene. However, Fred outrightly denied the allegations against him and claimed no recollection of the night Shelli died.
According to court documents, the ex-police officer reportedly made statements like “Fred Lamb did it . I’m not denying that I did it” and “the bottom line is, I killed a girl” during questioning. Although, it was later concluded in court that the statements were out of context and did not include the exact questions Fred answered with those words. Furthermore, due to a lack of substantial evidence, the charges against him were dropped in early 2017, and even his criminal record was expunged from public data in 2017. Though the investigators stated it to be a “temporary procedural hiccup,” charges have not been refiled again to date. Therefore, the investigation for Shelli’s murder remains active and unsolved.
Read More: Who is Fredrick Lamb? Where is He Now?