By Kara Thomas | JANUARY 4, 2016
The Hard Line on Crime
with Brenda Dean

Pulled from
The Archives.

Fayette, PA— When Margaret and Richard Greenwood returned home from a dinner party in the early hours of the morning Thursday and discovered that their eight-year-old daughter and a friend had been left alone, they never imagined the horror about to unfold:

Their babysitter, Mrs. Greenwood’s 19-year-old niece, had vanished mysteriously. Two days later, police announced that they had found the body of Lori Cawley in a wooded area off I-70, ten miles from the Greenwoods’ home.

Police launched a ground search effort for Ms. Cawley after responding to the scene and discovering that all of Ms. Cawley’s personal effects had been left behind. The front door of the Greenwoods’ home was unlocked, and a family vehicle was still in the garage, leading the responding officer to determine that Ms. Cawley had been abducted. Police have not yet released a cause of death, but a spokesperson for the family says that Ms. Cawley was a victim of homicide.

The two young children left in the home the night of the abduction gave police a harrowing account—while sleeping on the floor in the family’s enclosed sunroom, both girls saw a man casing the side of the house. Mrs. Greenwood’s daughter alerted Ms. Cawley, who went outside to scare off the intruder. Ms. Cawley assured the children that no one was in the yard, and both went back to sleep. When the Greenwoods returned shortly before two in the morning, their niece was gone. The Greenwoods are baffled that their niece did not call the police about a possible intruder in the backyard.

Ms. Cawley was a rising sophomore at Drexel University, where she studied engineering. She is described as vibrant and loved by everyone who met her. “We volunteered at the animal shelter together the summer after high school,” said Morgan Cavanaugh, 19, a friend of Ms. Cawley’s. “All she wanted to do was help people and be a force of good in the world.” When word of her death reached Drexel’s student body, classmates and friends poured onto the campus quad, leaving flowers and messages of support. A memorial service will be held in Germantown, Ms. Cawley’s hometown, this weekend.

Police have yet to comment on a possible connection between Cawley’s murder and the unsolved homicides of three women along I-70. The remains of Marisa Perez, 19, Rae Felice, 21, and Kristal Davis, 24, were all found last year, prompting investigators to search for a serial killer the media has dubbed “The Ohio River Monster."

Kara Thomas can be reached on Follow her on Twitter @karatwrites