Investigation Discovery’s ‘Evil Lives Here: Shadows of Death In Mother’s Garden’ chronicles how American serial killer, Larry Dean Bright, murdered eight women in Peoria and Tazewell Counties in Illinois. He went on a 15-month killing spree between July 2003 and late 2004, dumping the bodies along rural roads or burning them in a fire pit in his backyard in Peoria, Illinois. So, who were Larry’s victims, and how were they killed? Let’s find out.
Who Were Larry Bright’s Victims?
Sabrina Payne was born in Tazewell County, Illinois, on February 4, 1967. The 36-year-old lived in Tremont Township, Tazewell County, in July 2003. The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department’s officers were called to a cornfield south of Augustin Road at Mud Creek Bridge, Tremont Township, on July 27, 2003. There was a report of a black female found in a cornfield, later identified as Sabrina. The detectives learned she was last seen at her residence at 4:00 pm on July 25.
The coroner performed the autopsy on July 28, and the coroner stated the cause of death could not be determined. However, it was later found to be strangulation. Larry Dean Bright confessed to picking Sabrina up on the south end of Peoria and taking her back to where he then lived on McClure Street in Peoria. Believing she was ripping him off, he claimed he lost control and killed her. He drove the body to the cornfield in his Blazer, discarded the body in the field, and threw some of her clothes in a nearby creek.
Laura Lollar was born in Tazewell County, Illinois, on January 1, 1971. Her friend reported her missing to the Peoria City Police Department on August 22, 2004. The male friend stated she had not been seen for around three weeks. He claimed Laura contacted him every three or four days, and Laura’s ex-husband was also concerned about her absence. The former spouse contended he had been checking for her at a few places but had not been able to find her nor anyone who had recently seen or heard from her.
The ex-husband alleged Laura always dropped at his place once a week to check up on their three children. The police filed a missing person report on August 26. Larry confessed to killing and burning her body in January 2005. He admitted to picking her up on the north end of Peoria near Madison and Spring streets and stated he remembered killing her because she kept struggling and telling about her children as he strangled her. Larry also told the police he felt bad while murdering the 36-year-old mother and claimed she was his second to last victim.
Barbara Williams was born in Peoria County, Illinois, on January 30, 1968. The Peoria County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a female body lying on the side of the road on the 4800 Block of North Valley View Road in Edwards. They found Barbara lying face down in the snow, partially clothed, with her feet still on the roadway. The marks on her clothing indicated she had been dragged to the place, though police found no drag marks at the crime scene. Police reports stated she was last seen alive between 9:00- 10:00 pm on February 4.
Barbara’s autopsy report found several contusions and abrasions on her body, though she had not been strangled. According to the coroner, the 36-year-old was fatally induced with drugs, particularly cocaine. Larry confessed to the murder, admitting to picking her up on the south end of Peoria, Illinois, and taking her back to his house at 418 W. Starr Ct. in Peoria. They were doing crack cocaine, and Larry alleged Barbara tried to steal his money. He lost control and punched her in the throat, causing her to choke and die.
How Many Women Did Larry Bright Kill?
Tamara Walls was born in Peoria County, Illinois, on January 27, 1975. Her sister reported her missing to the Peoria Police Department, claiming Tamara had not been seen for approximately three weeks. The sister also claimed Tamara was not the kind of girl to not check in with her family for so long. Larry confessed to picking up the 29-year-old around the Harrison Homes area of Peoria and driving her to his Starr Court residence. He claimed they smoked crack, drank whiskey, and had consensual sex.
Larry admitted to strangling her during sex as she struggled to break free and scratched his face. However, the serial killer overpowered Tamara and choked her until she died. After killing her, he carried her body from the house into the backyard and set fire to the body in a burn pile. The detectives found her human remains, including a portion of a human mandible (or jawbone), at 2317 Willow Road in Norwood. Dental records confirmed it belonged to Tamara on August 2, 2005.
Shirley Ann Trapp was born on June 6, 1959, and her boyfriend reported her missing on August 28, 2004. Her family grew suspicious after not seeing her since August 25. She had diabetes and needed continual medication to control her condition. The detectives contacted St. Francis pharmacy in Peoria to learn the 45-year-old had also not collected her diabetic medicine. Larry claimed to have taken her to his Starr Court residence and had crack cocaine and consensual sex. He struck her in the head, strangled her, and burned her body.
Shaconda Thomas was born on November 23, 1971, and her grandmother reported her missing to the Peoria Police Department on October 7, 2004. Her family members had not seen her alive since the last week of August 2004. Larry initially claimed he did not remember killing her but later confessed to murdering the 32-year-old and burning her body when the police showed him Shaconda’s photograph. He stated he had strangled her, thrown her corpse into a hole in his backyard, and set fire to it along with three more.
Linda Neal was born on June 23, 1964, and her body was found at the 2500 block of King Road off Wildlife Road, in rural Hopedale in Tazewell County, on September 25, 2004. She was lying in a grassy area to the right side of a dirt road and within a few feet of a tree. The 40-year-old was unclothed, and a corded ligature, apparently a shoelace, was found around the upper portion of her neck. Larry admitted to picking the 40-year-old up from the parking lot of a furniture store by Woody’s Bar on the southern edge of Peoria.
He lured her with the drugs before strangling her to death during consensual sex but was unable to burn the body because his mother was at home. So, he dumped the body at the end of King Road using his vehicle. Brenda Erving was born on December 23, 1962, and her body was found on a farm entrance road near the 24000 block of West Taggert Road, Elmwood Township, in Peoria County. She was lying face down in the mud, and her body was unclothed except for her socks. Her autopsy report showed she was stranged, a blunt force trauma to the head, and the body also contained a toxic level of cocaine.