Not all blacks. Not all men.
May 9, 2018
In the 16 years since he allegedly murdered Athens resident Pamela Crisler, Abdus Salaam Laroche flew under law enforcement’s radar despite multiple arrests for for misdemeanor and felony crimes in the subsequent years.
He had never been convicted of a violent crime or had a felony conviction that sent him to prison. That meant he never had to supply a DNA sample as is required by law of all Georgia prison inmates.
A break in the cold murder case came after Laroche, a 34-year-old Decatur resident, was convicted late last year in the Atlanta area for felony copyright infringement for selling bootlegged DVDs, according to Epifanio Rodriguez, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. As part of a plea bargain, Rodriguez said Laroche received probation and agreed to supply a DNA sample.
That sample was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, a national DNA database, and last November, police in Athens were notified that Laroche’s DNA matched genetic evidence found at the Crisler murder scene.
Crisler, a 49-year-old mental health and substance abuse counselor, was found stabbed to death Aug. 21, 2002, in her home at College Place Apartments off West Broad Street. The complex is now called University Oaks.
Retired Clarke County police lieutenant Mike McKeel, who was the lead investigator, put in countless hours trying to identify Crisler’s killer.
He said he experienced the frustrations of following leads only to find dead ends.
As the case grew cold, police periodically checked CODIS to see if there were any matches to the Crisler crime scene DNA evidence.
“I had always hoped to get a hit so that we could solve the case and let (Crisler’s) mama know before she died, but unfortunately she passed away a few years ago,” said McKeel, now an Oconee County sheriff’s deputy.
Athens-Clarke police detectives learned about the DNA match late last year, following Laroche’s bootlegging conviction, according to Rodriguez.
Following an investigation with the assistance of the DeKalb County Probation Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and FBI, detectives on Tuesday secured warrant charging Laroche with malice, felony and second-degree murder.
Laroche was transported Tuesday afternoon to the Clarke County Jail, where he was being held without bail.