On The Case With Paula Zahn is examining the murder of Pamela Crisler, who was brutally stabbed by Abdus Salaam Laroche in Athens, Georgia, in 2002.
On August 21, 2002, two employees at an apartment complex in Athens noticed a foul stench coming from one of the apartments, so they called the cops.
When the police arrived at the apartment, they found a “chaotic” scene; 49-year-old Crisler was lying on her stomach in the bedroom, covered in blood. She was naked apart from a pair of panties and had been stabbed about 20 times. The coroner found defense wounds on her hands. But there was no sign of rape.
The apartment was not Crisler’s official residence, and the police were initially suspicious of the tenant, Charles Elam, who had been letting Crisler stay at his home. Elam told the cops that he had been staying with family in Florida and knew nothing of the murder. The investigators eventually admitted that he was innocent.
A neighbor at the complex later stated she’d seen a Hispanic or Black man leave the apartment with a vacuum cleaner in the middle of the night. The cops learned that a vacuum cleaner had indeed been stolen from the crime scene.
The cops also had another vital piece of evidence, a small droplet of blood was left behind by the killer. But despite these clues, the case ran cold.
DNA evidence pointed to Abdus Laroche as Pamela Crisler’s killer
It took until 2017 before there was a breakthrough in the case. Abdus Salaam Laroche was arrested in Decatur, GA, for possession of drugs, amongst other charges, which led to his DNA being taken. His DNA proved to be a match to the killer.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
The cops discovered that Laroche had lived at the same apartment complex as Crisler. At the time, he was just 16 years old and was still in high school.
During an interview, the killer kept contradicting himself; he would first claim he didn’t know Crisler before changing his mind. At one point, he even admitted to being in her apartment on the night she died.
The case against Laroche was further bolstered when an acquaintance informed police that Laroche had admitted to killing Crisler. Laroche had told the friend that he had broken in to Crisler’s apartment and killed her when she had awoken. The friend only came forward after Laroche betrayed him by setting him to be robbed.
Eventually, in 2020, Laroche and the prosecution came to a plea agreement. The killer pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a further 20 years on probation.
More from On The Case With Paula Zahn
Follow the links to read about more murders investigated by crime journalist Paula Zahn.
In Forth Worth, Texas, in 1974, Glen McCurley abducted teenager Carla Walker from her car and raped and murdered her. It took nearly 50 years for the police to catch up to the killer.
Beth Buege was found slumped dead in her car on a street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in June 1990. She had been strangled, but her murder remains a mystery.
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.