The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 23, 2013

SFU student slain in Pittsburgh suburb

— A St. Francis University student is being remembered in the wake of her death in a Pittsburgh-area shooting.

Laurin Edwards had just celebrated her 19th birthday and was preparing to return to Loretto for the fall term when her father killed her and himself in what appeared to be a methodical shooting spree in their Shaler Township home.

Edwards’ mother and brother were critically injured.

“We are deeply saddened to have been informed this morning that one of our students, Laurin Edwards, was involved in a fatal tragedy at her home in Pittsburgh,” the university said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.

Edwards was entering her sophomore year as a physician assistant sciences student at St. Francis and was a member of Phi Lambda Psi sorority.

Police were at a loss to explain the shootings. Homicide detectives found no sign of a struggle and said they have found no letters or other items explaining why James Edwards, 52, shot his family, their dog and then himself shortly after 3 a.m.

“It looks like the children were in their respective rooms. He went from room to room, for lack of a better term, and shot all the people,” Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said. “We might never know exactly why.”

The gunman's wife, Charlene Edwards, was conscious when police arrived and did not mention any marital problems, police said. Charlene Edwards and couple’s son, Jimmy Edwards, were listed in critical condition at Allegheny General Hospital, but were expected to survive.

Laurin’s sorority sister, Erin Maher of Latrobe, remembered her as an outgoing, caring student who was involved in campus life.

“She was one of those people who was always the life of the party and lived life to the fullest,” Maher said. “You always knew when Laurin was in the room because she was always making people laugh and making people smile.”

Her friends are reeling from the news of her death, Maher said.

“It is an absolute shock,” she said. “We haven’t come to terms yet. It is going to be such a loss for us.”

Maher said Laurin’s birthday was Wednesday and she had just posted on her Facebook page, thanking her friends

and family for a wonderful birthday.

Kailynn Dunkle of Hershey was going to be Laurin’s roommate when the two returned to the university on Sunday.

Laurin took her schooling very seriously and was looking forward to a career as a physician assistant, but still managed to enjoy college life, Dunkle said.

And Laurin’s friendship was valued by many, Dunkle added.

“Everybody went to her for advice,” Dunkle said, her voice breaking. “You could count on her for a friend. We were all lucky we could cherish the time we had with her.”

Emotional and spiritual support is being provided by the residence life department, counseling service and campus ministry, the university said.

Students in need of counseling services may call 472-3211.

The Counseling Center in

120 Francis Hall will be open beginning Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A special candle was lighted Thursday morning near the pulpit of the Immaculate Conception Chapel on campus.

It will remain lighted all weekend for Laurin Edwards and her family.

Noon Mass on Thursday honored Laurin Edwards and the

8 p.m. Mass on Sunday will again honor her, with special prayers offered for her.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Laurin’s mother and brother, James, who were critically injured in this tragic event. We also join our prayers with those of Duquesne University where James is enrolled in the pharmacy program,” said the Rev. Gabriel Zeis, university president.

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at


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