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In jaw-dropping twist, Florida mom charged with murdering husband and burying him under fire pit she built claims 7-year-old girl pulled trigger

Laurie Shaver, Michael Shaver

Laurie Shaver, Michael Shaver (Lake County Sheriff’s Office)

The Florida woman accused of murdering her husband in 2015, burying his body under a fire pit in the backyard, and posing as him on Facebook Messenger to fool his friends and relatives — all while carrying on multiple new relationships — didn’t actually pull the trigger, according to a new defense motion for reconsideration. The person who fired the first shot was a teen girl who would have been roughly 7 years old at the time of the killing, the motion indicated by the date of birth provided.

Laurie Leigh Shaver, now 40, has faced charges of second-degree murder and accessory after the fact in the 2015 disappearance and death of 36-year-old Michael Shaver since her September 2020 arrest. The investigation was lengthy but it did not lead the Lake County Sheriff’s Office far away.

“Michael Shaver was last seen in November, 2015,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said. “On March 9, 2018, Michael’s body was recovered by LCSO Detectives buried underneath a concrete slab/fire pit on the 5-acre property he shared with his wife, Laurie Shaver, on Sandy Pines Road, Clermont.”

But Jeffrey W. Wiggs, a defense lawyer for Laurie Shaver, asserted in a bombshell motion for reconsideration on Monday, May 8, that a minor girl had “confessed” (albeit not formally) “to having committed the respective murder in this matter” and expressed a desire to testify to that through her court-appointed lawyer Kelly Johnson.

“[T]her minor child has met with Kelly Johnson on multiple occasions and represented her desire to testify in this cause,” the motion said. “At all times the minor has been apprised of the rights she would be waving and the possible penalties she would be facing. Nonetheless, the child has persisted in seeking to testify.”

The defense filing, noting that “[t]hese facts were mentioned by the attorney representing the minor child,” therefore asked the judge to order the psychological or sociological evaluation of the minor child to prepare for testimony about the case. They claimed the girl “had acted out as a consequence of past, and repeated violence within the residence by Michael Shaver.” The defense also asserted that a man Laurie Shaver was dating fired a second shot at the victim.

The docket indicated that a hearing was scheduled for Monday, possibly to address the motion in favor of a state-funded evaluation of the child, but WKMG said a hearing did not happen. Law&Crime briefly spoke with Wiggs and he confirmed both that there was no hearing and that he wasn’t sure when the next one would be. He did urge the prosecution in the Fifth Judicial Circuit to take the motion filed by the defense seriously.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Laurie Shaver was a mother of two working from home and the only adult living at the five-acre property on Sandy Pines Road in Clermont owned by Michael Shaver at the time the victim was shot and killed, which is believed to have occurred between Nov. 7, 2015, and Nov. 10, 2015, the latter of which was the first day he failed to show for work.

Documents said that Scott, one of Michael Shaver’s friends, requested a welfare check on Feb. 16, 2018 — more than two years later — believing that the “totality of the circumstances” indicated that Laurie Shaver wasn’t telling the truth about the victim’s unexplained disappearance. What followed in the law enforcement affidavit was a recitation of the various things Scott found suspicious:

Laurie vaguely claimed Michael left in a black SUV, yet Scott knew his possessions to still be at the home afterwards. Scott found the text messages to Michael’s boss “quitting” his job and giving away his tools to be unlike him. Scott believe Laurie was pretending to be Michael on his Facebook. Scott also thought the concrete slab / fire pit that appeared on the property after Michael’s disappearance along with Laurie quickly remarrying was suspicious. Scott consulted with Michael’s family, who also agreed he would never leave his kids to start a new family (as Laurie claimed he had), and the decision was made for Scott to contact authorities and report Michael missing.

When pressed by investigators at the property, Laurie Shaver allegedly claimed that Michael went to Georgia “after his arrest for domestic violence in September, 2014 and [that] the last time she saw him was during a DCF custody trial in 2015.”

Investigators said it became clearer by the day that Michael Shaver was no longer living, as his driver’s license, passport, and FAA pilot’s medical certificate all expired and nobody who knew him had seen him alive since the end of 2015. Meanwhile, Laurie Shaver had allegedly told deputies to leave the property after they asked about the concrete slab/fire fit that was newly constructed after Michael Shaver’s disappearance. DNA confirmed that the victim’s body was found in March 2018 under the fire pit in question, and the victim was shot in the back of the head with a .38, authorities said.

“Laurie Shaver was known to keep a pink .38 caliber handgun on her nightstand,” the affidavit said, noting that she sold two more .38s and had access to a fourth at the time of Michael Shaver’s disappearance.

Laurie Shaver’s new boyfriend Travis, whom she began dating as soon as January-April 2016, allegedly told investigators that the defendant once said of Michael Shaver and a body on the property: “It’s not that he’s missing, he’s no longer walking this Earth.”

A sheet that Michael Shaver was wrapped in was purchased at Kohl’s, “a department store frequented by Laurie Shaver, as proven by her bank records,” authorities said.

A co-worker named Frank reported seeing Michael Shaver alive and with Laurie Shaver and their two kids for the last time at a “tractor show” on Nov. 7. 2015. Frank said that it looked like Michael and Laurie Shaver weren’t “getting along” and that they left the tractor event, authorities said. Frank said a text to Michael Shaver the next day went without a response, but a text two days later purportedly from the victim said he was quitting work to save his marriage to Laurie Shaver.

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Michael Shaver “was never seen again,” documents said.

Friends, family, and co-workers, including Frank and Michael Shaver’s boss John, believed that the texts and Facebook messages they received from the victim’s phone and account were “unlike” him in tone.

“From November 7, 2015 until Michael’s body was discovered, Laurie Shaver continued to tell friends and family that she saw and spoke to Michael Shaver and that he was stalking her,” the sheriff’s office said.

The common thread between these messages? Laurie Shaver allegedly posed as Michael Shaver and told people close to him never to reach out ever again — “a ruse which did not benefit her any way other than prolonging the discovery of his homicide,” per investigators. These were messages like: “Leave me alone, don’t bother me”; “Everyone just needs to leave me alone just like they did my entire life”; “I don’t have a family anymore.”

At the same time Michael Shaver was supposed to be in Georgia, Laurie Shaver allegedly made a number of purchases with her husband’s debit card locally in Clermont, Florida, and even took out a loan with Mariner Finance. Mariner Finance was never able to find Michael Shaver.

“The person who made the deposit and withdrawals would need to have the ability to intercept Michael Shaver’s mail from his secure community mailbox, have access to his social security number, his ATM card for two weeks, his PIN number, and have the knowledge that Michael Shaver would not be around to notice the fraudulent deposit, multiple withdrawals, or packages shipped to his residence,” the affidavit said.

In December 2015, just weeks after Michael Shaver was last seen, Laurie Shaver allegedly sold or tried to sell his guns, tools, car, home and property.

Two of the guns Shaver sold were .38 caliber revolvers, authorities said. The owner of JB Guns who purchased the firearms apparently recognized Laurie Shaver when he saw a news report in March 2018 about the investigation at her property.

Laurie Shaver allegedly told Travis she was divorced and that Michael Shaver left the family to start a new life — and she “‘married’ [Travis] even though her marriage to Michael was still valid.”

Despite her claims that Michael Shaver stalked her, Laurie Shaver never reported such claims to law enforcement, and she never filed for child support or reported Michael missing, said the sheriff’s office.

Remarkably, Laurie Shaver allegedly posted on Facebook about the construction of the fire pit in March 2016: “Newest project. Built this fire pit today … and now just need to pour in concrete.”

The next month, a comment said: “Cement. It’s going in the area around the fire pit I built.” Laurie Shaver allegedly rented a cement mixer from Home Depot in September 2016 to complete the project.

Further investigation revealed that Laurie Shaver had begun dating a married man in September 2015, months before Michael Shaver was last seen. She claimed to have left her husband, the affidavit said.

That man, Jereme Townsend, allegedly told authorities he noticed in December 2015 — purportedly the first time he went to the defendant’s home — that Laurie Shaver had blood stains on her jeans.

“He asked her if that was blood on her jeans. Laurie changed the jeans and never wore them again,” the affidavit said. “Jereme remarked that prior to that, Laurie wore those jeans 3 times per week but he never saw them again.”

Laurie Shaver went on to pose as Michael Shaver while sending Facebook messages and explicit photos to Jereme’s wife, as part of a ploy to expose the affair and get the woman to leave Jereme, authorities said. Things did not go as the suspect allegedly hoped: Jereme admitted to the affair, stopped the affair in April 2016, reconciled with his wife, and provided highly specific details to sheriff’s investigators.

“Jereme also described a tattoo Laurie got of his nickname, ‘Jay’ in a heart over her vagina which caused him to think Laurie felt more serious about their relationship than he did, which he always considered purely sexual,” documents said.

Defense attorney Wiggs told Law&Crime that it was his understanding of the facts that Jereme fired the second shot, killing Michael Shaver. Wiggs indicated Laurie Shaver was a battered woman.

Notably, the affidavit of probable cause made no mention of a second shot and Townsend has not been accused of wrongdoing.

The beginnings of Laurie Shaver’s relationship with Travis overlapped with the end of the relationship with Jereme, court documents indicate. Then, at the end of 2016, on New Year’s Eve, Laurie Shaver had her “wedding night” with Travis. According to her sister-in-law, the defendant had an episode where she “locked herself in her bedroom, then pulled a gun and had to be talked down by a family member.”

Read the motion for reconsideration and the affidavit of probable cause.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.