Lauren Astley murder draws attention to teen breakup violence

A popular girl with a football player ex-boyfriend and an intense breakup is dead - was it a case of breakup violence?

Lauren Astley and Nathaniel Fujita
Lauren Astley and Nathaniel Fujita
Janet Wolbarst Photography

Produced by Marcelena Spencer

Dawn. July 4, 2011. Lauren Astley has been missing for over 12 hours.

Friends Genevieve Flynn and Chloe Jacques were paralyzed with fear.

"... and we just waited and waited and sat in silence, not knowing what to do, not knowing what to think, not knowing what to feel," said Chloe.

"And then in the morning," Genevieve said with a long pause, "they found her."

Just after daybreak, Lauren's body was discovered in a marsh. She had been strangled; her throat cut.

"I was hoping up until the last moment that it was not her, even when we went to the Medical Examiner's office," Lauren's father, Malcolm Astley told "48 Hours" correspondent Tracy Smith.

Astley had done what no father should ever have to do: identify the body of his first and only child. Lauren had just turned 18 -- a bright, musically gifted girl with her whole life in front of her.

"It's still really hard for me to believe," Lauren's mother, Mary Dunne explained. "I am so grateful that I have different recordings of her.

And it's something that nourishes me everyday."

Lauren was 12 when she got the lead in a local theatre production of "Annie."

"... she just has a lovely voice and it was just growing stronger and stronger," said Astley.

Her parents, both educators, divorced in 2006 and shared custody of Lauren.

"... she was always laughing and moving and doing something," said Dunne.

"She was very strong in soccer," Astley said, "then -- tennis, even though she was small."

"She was tiny ... she was only 5 feet tall," said Dunne. But Lauren had a big personality.

"She did have a lot of personality and she was incredibly honest," said friend Hannah Blahut.

"A trend setter, definitely,"  Genevieve added. "... she was just so much fun to be around."

"She was a really good friend. If she was helping you with a problem, she would put 100 percent into it," said Hannah.

"You went to New Orleans with her?" Smith asked Hannah.

"Yeah, we went to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina," she replied.

In fact, Lauren went to New Orleans three times to help flood victims get back on their feet.

"And did good, hard, manual labor, which was good for her to do. And I think the work was really meaningful to her," said Dunne.

In high school, Lauren blossomed. She became a lead singer in an a cappella group.

"She was so excited to get that part ... get that 'Breathless' song," said Genevieve.

And Lauren began dating fellow classmate Nathaniel Fujita.

"Was Nathaniel her first boyfriend?" Smith asked the group of friends.

"Yeah, first serious boyfriend," Chloe replied.

R.J. Bolivar, D.J Henderson, and Connor Murphy have been friends with Nathaniel almost their whole lives.

"We been playing sports together since maybe elementary school," said D.J.

"He was a good guy, he was a pretty good friend. I mean, he was a kind person at heart," said R.J.

"He was very nice. He was funny, friendly, he was my friend," Genevieve told Smith.

"He was a little bit on the quiet side," said Chloe.

"He really didn't say or talk much," said R.J.

They say Nathaniel did most of his talking on the football field as a star wide receiver for Wayland High School.

"He was a good athlete. Fast, tall, coordinated," said R.J.

Nathaniel is Beth and Tomo Fujita's oldest child. Tomo is a well-known guitarist and a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"You know, Lauren became, pretty much, a member of the family," George Mattingly, Nathaniel's uncle, told Smith. "... she was at the Fujita home quite a bit. She was a big part of Nathaniel's life."

"Good choice for him," Smith remarked.

"I thought so," Mattingly said. "She was -- she was lovely. She was great."

"And I think for the first two years, it was pretty fine," said Dunne.

"They were both very attractive," Chloe said. "... they seemed like the ideal couple."

But their three-year relationship was a rollercoaster ride.

Said Chloe, "Lauren would say, like, 'Nate's so cute. He was so, like, cute and fun last night.' And she'd -"

"-- or," Hannah interrupted, "'He was so boring, he was on his phone the whole time, I'm so annoyed, I'm over it.'"

"They started getting so chronically into fights," Dunne explained.

"And then it would be -- back together, broken up, back together, broken up."

And then in the spring of senior year, on her 18th birthday, Lauren broke it off with Nathaniel for good.

"I think with what was the final breakup she felt some relief, life was somehow opening up along with college," said Astley.

In the fall, Lauren was on her way to Elon University in North Carolina.

"She was really looking forward to college because she would get to meet a lot of new people," said Genevieve.

But Nathaniel saw the breakup in an entirely different light.

"That was not so good for him. He was -- sad about it. He felt a sense of loss," said Mattingly.

It should have been a time of celebration. Nathaniel had been recruited to play football at Trinity College in Connecticut -- a childhood dream come true.

"I said, 'Well, man, you're -- you're going to Trinity to play football, aren't you excited?' And he was just kind of deadpan... not to become animated about football ... it was just not the same kid."

"In the last couple years of high school, it was amazing how close we were, it was a tangible bond," said Genevieve.

To celebrate their high school graduation, Lauren, Hannah and Chloe threw a big party.

About 150 classmates were under a huge tent, dancing and celebrating, including Lauren's ex-boyfriend, Nathaniel.

"Lauren didn't want to talk to Nate at the graduation party," said Chloe.

"And at one point, I remember looking over and seeing Nate sort of going up to her and saying, you know, 'Talk to me.' You know -- sort of normal drunk guy, like, 'blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,'" Hannah said. "And, she was sort of just, like, 'Get away from me.' Like, 'get away from me, Nate.'"

"... she came to me, crying, and said, 'He will not leave me alone. He's harassing me, he doesn't want me to dance with anybody," said Dunne.

"And at that point, he just looked really angry and walked over and sort of punched his fist into one of the poles that was holding the tent up," said Hannah.

"I saw the tent ... collapsed and people trying to hold it up," Chloe added.

"So people actually had to rush over and -" Smith asked.

"Rush over and hold up the tent," Chloe continued. "Yes. It was a big scene."

The scene ended when Nathaniel was asked to leave.

"He had to be picked up and -- and I think feeling like the world was -- against him at that point," said Astley.

Just one month later, Lauren was found brutally murdered.

"And when they told me that they had found her body," Dunne said, "I remember just bellowing, 'Don't let it be Nate. Don't let it be Nate.'"

Lauren's last day

"The body was in the water about 30 feet off the roadway," said Massachusetts State Police Investigator Tony DeLucia. "I pulled back the dress from her throat ... I saw a severe wound to her neck."

Lauren Astley, 18, was found with a bungee cord tangled in her hair.

"Nate is definitely not involved in this," friend Chloe Jacques remembered thinking. "Nate would never do something like this to Lauren. Like, that is absurd."

Later on July 3, the night Lauren went missing, police officers talked to Nathaniel and his mother, Beth, three times and each time they told essentially the same story: Nathaniel was home alone when Lauren stopped by for five minutes, but she never got out of her car. The story seemed credible.

"We wanted to know the comings and goings of Lauren and Nathaniel in the days and weeks prior to this event happening," said DeLucia.

Investigators would learn in the weeks prior to Lauren's murder, ex-boyfriend Nathaniel's behavior had changed.

"Well, he had gone from-- a kid who was-- always on the move, always working out ... to a kid who was basically at home, lying on the couch, looking miserable," said Nathaniel's uncle, George Mattingly.

Nathaniel had stopped hanging out with friends. He was drinking a lot and smoking pot daily.

Even though she had broken up with Nathaniel a few months earlier, friend Genevieve says Lauren still worried about him.

"She would say like, 'Do you think I should do something? Do you think I should talk to him? Maybe I should try and help him?'" she told Smith.

Nathaniel's mother, Beth, was so worried about her son she took him to see a psychiatrist. She also asked Lauren to talk to him.

"Nate's mom came and visited Lauren at work ... and asked if it would be a good idea if she reached out to him and talked to him and kind of saw what was going on," said Chloe.


And Lauren did reach out to Nathaniel. On July 3, 2011, she began the last day of her life going to her job at the local mall. Surveillance video shows Lauren going up the mall escalator at 9:45 a.m.

"...there's a video surveillance of Lauren leaving the mall on the phone the night she is killed. She's on the phone with Nathaniel Fujita," said DeLucia. The time was 6:45 p.m. "After she left work, from everyone we had spoken to, she had never been seen again."

"We had had plans to hang out all the big group of us that night..." a teary-eyed Genevieve said.

"Did she tell you that she was gonna go?" Smith asked.

"No. No one knew that she was going that night," Genevieve replied.

Lauren and her friends usually knew where everyone was at all times, but her plans to visit Nathaniel that night she kept to herself.

Nathaniel's parents weren't home. Investigators learned from phone records she had sent Nathaniel a text message.

"And it's just one word, just the word 'Here.' That's her saying to Nathaniel she's at the home," DeLucia explained.

That text at 7:05 p.m. on July 3 was the last message Lauren sent.

"... we wanted to speak with Nathaniel to find out what his communication with her was that evening...." said DeLucia.

Tony DeLucia and Wayland Police detective Jamie Berger drove to Nathaniel's home the next morning.

"When we knocked on the door, Tomo Fujita was there, who was Nathaniel's father," said Det. Berger.

But his son wasn't home. Nathaniel was nowhere to be found. Investigators then got a search warrant for the Fujita home.

"We started in the garage 'cause there appeared to be some type of stain on the floor of the garage," DeLucia said. "... the stain ... tested positive for blood ..."

They also discovered additional blood evidence, bungee cords, and in the basement of the Fujita home, a black gym bag.

"... and upon opening that gym bag there was a pair of sneakers, like soaking wet, that had mud in them. We went on to search Nathaniel's bedroom," DeLucia continued.

And there, hidden in a crawl space above the ceiling, "The first thing you see is a pair of sneakers that appear to have blood all over them ... in addition to bloody clothing ... and they're soaking wet. Upon finding all these items, we were going to arrest Nathaniel Fujita," said DeLucia.

After searching all day, police tracked him down at his cousin's home in a nearby town.

"... I explained to him who I was and why I was there," Det. Berger said. "He didn't have anything to say..."

In the early morning hours of July 5, Nathaniel Fujita was arrested and charged with murder.

"When he was arrested, what was that moment like?" Smith asked Nathaniel's uncle.

"It was incomprehensible, incomprehensible. It was like an alternate reality," Mattingly replied.

"When I realize it was Nate that killed her, that the Nate that I was friends with could do that to the girl he loved, to my best friend, it blows my mind," said Chloe.

The crime lab determined the blood found in Nathaniel's home was Lauren's. Investigators would gather more evidence to put together a timeline of the crime. They say Nathaniel was home alone when he savagely murdered Lauren in his family's garage. Then, he drove her red Jeep a quarter of a mile to the Town Beach parking lot, dumped her keys in a storm drain and ran back home.

"He gets back to the garage, puts her inside his car," said Investigator DeLucia. He says Nathaniel then drove five miles to the secluded marsh. "He takes her body out of the car and goes about 30 some odd feet into the water and tries to conceal her body in the vegetation in the water. ... He then gets in his vehicle to drive back towards his home. ... a witness sees him on King Street, music blaring, shirt off, man on a mission -- deliberate, purposeful, driving home..."

When Nathaniel got home, investigators say, he hid the evidence and cleaned up. It all took less than an hour and they have a theory why he murdered Lauren.

"He was upset his girlfriend broke up with him and ultimately he killed her," said DeLucia.

Mary Dunne never imagined her daughter's first boyfriend could ever do something so horrific. "... In all our talking that we did about boys and drinking and drugs and driving and contraception, I mean, you name it. I never heard the term before ... breakup violence..."

A disturbing trend

By all accounts, there was no evidence of stalking or physical abuse between Nathaniel and Lauren while they were dating. But their friend, R.J. Bolivar, says there were a few things about Nathaniel's behavior that troubled him.

"Did you ever get the sense that he was possessive of her?" Tracy Smith asked.

"... I mean he definitely was, like a bit possessive," R.J. replied. "... he would get angry if she talked to people, or ... I think he would ... look through her phone and things like that which are kind of weird ...".

"I believe he loved her. He was obsessed with her..." said Chloe.

As authorities learned more about how Lauren Astley's body ended up in the marsh, they started to believe she was a victim of a disturbing trend: breakup violence. It is a crime that has no zip code. It's urban, suburban, and rural. A relationship ends and what happens is an emotional surge of uncontrollable anger. It can be verbal or physical and sometimes, as in the case of Lauren Astley, it can end in death.

Gerry Leone was the district attorney in the Lauren Astley murder case. He wants to make sure what happened to Lauren doesn't happen to another teenager. He has a message for middle and high school students -- especially young men.

"Being kind, caring, thoughtful ... that's what a real man is," he told students. "Only cowards would put their hands on a woman with mean intent."

The White Ribbon Campaign aims to stop violence before it starts.

"We tell them that the white ribbon signifies men - men standing up against violence against women," the former Middlesex County D.A. explained. "I want them to stand up, I want them to raise their hand ... and I want them to commit to being an ambassador ... not just for that moment but ... they have to continue to not only to talk the talk but they've gotta walk the walk."

The statistics are startling. According to the American Psychological Association, one in three teens and young adults is the victim of physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse by a dating partner.

"Of teenagers who are in abusive relationships 3 percent will tell an authority figure, 6 percent will tell a family member, but 75 percent will tell a friend," Leone explained. "That's why we focus on kids."

This summer, more than 200 teens attended Boston's Break Up Summit. Lauren Astley's father, Malcolm, was there, too.


"Yes, it is terribly painful to have someone break up with you. It is one of the worst pains in life. ... but normal and not to be taken as failure or as a cause for violence," Astley addressed attendees. "Boys and men can step up together with girls and women and veto violence."

All through Massachusetts, teenagers, like students from Lincoln-Sudbury High School, are working at bringing awareness to the growing problem of dating and breakup violence through class presentations and participation in dating violence awareness clubs, like the one at Shawsheen Regional High School.

"How many of you know someone who was or is in an abusive relationship?" Smith asked a group of six students, three boys and three girls. They all raised their hands. "All of you? And I have to ask you, how many of you have been in one yourself? All of you? Oh my goodness."

"It happens more than people think," said student Kate Elwell.

The Shawsheen students say the dating abuse they experienced was emotional not physical. They meet every week they meet to listen and learn how to help classmates recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

Teen dating violence: 10 warning signs
Teen dating violence: 10 warning signs
  

Social media adds enormous pressure -- the digital footprint that every young person lives with makes breaking up harder, sometimes humiliating. It's a recipe for disaster.

"... the loss, the breakup, it's tweeted ... it's texted about. It's Facebook-ed," Leone said. "Everybody's electronically communicating about it. And what it tends to do is exacerbate the entirety of the situation.

When Lauren Astley was contemplating ending her relationship with Nathaniel Fujita, she and her best girlfriends chatted about it on social media.

"We had a Facebook thread with a list of all -- all the reasons why Lauren should break up with Nate," said Chloe.

"So what was on the list?" Smith asked.

"Friends don't like him," said Chloe.

"My mom doesn't like him..." added Hannah.

"... friends don't like him ... mean to his mom, aggressive," Chloe continued.

"Aggressive was on the list?" Smith asked.

"When he's drunk," Hannah replied.


There's no evidence Nathaniel knew about the Facebook thread and no one ever imagined he would be capable of killing Lauren. Her mother wishes she had seen the red flags.

"... the signs, although I think they were there, were very, very soft. And I construed them as teenage, you know, behavior," Mary Dunne said.

"But there was more to it than that ... and certainly there are things in retrospect that I would pay attention to, like the amount of time not at my house. The amount of time he had her at his house. The fact that Lauren's friends didn't like him at all."

"These key girlfriends, her best girlfriends, didn't like him?" Smith asked Dunne.

"Uh huh," she affirmed, "and the numbers of times she tried to break up with him, that he wouldn't allow it, I think is another red flag."

According to Nathaniel's family, there was something going on with him. Something so private his close friends didn't even know about it.

"Something was not right ... he reported to the psychiatrist that is mood was one out of 10," Nathaniel's uncle told Smith.

"Ten being the highest, one being the lowest?" Smith asked.

"Yes. This despite being on track to go to Trinity College and play football which he loved," said Mattingly.

Nathaniel's college football dream had been shattered. He was about to stand trial for murder.

The trial

On Feb. 13, 2013, a year-and-a-half after Lauren Astley's murder, her ex-boyfriend Nathaniel Fujita's trial began.

"There's two different people," friend Genevieve Flynn said. "There's, like, the Nate that was in high school with us, who was, like, in my homeroom, who would joke around with me, who was on the track team with me. There's that Nate. Then there's, like, the Nate who I have only really seen in handcuffs and in a court room."

Asked how he looked in court, friend Hannah Blahut told Smith, "He mostly kept his face down. And when he looked up, he looked just not like any Nate that I'd ever known."

Prosecutor Lisa McGovern wastes no time in spelling out why Lauren was murdered.

"This defendant is guilty exactly as charged," McGovern addressed the court in her opening statement.

"Nathaniel Fujita was hurt by Lauren Astley not coming back to him And he killed her," McGovern told "48 Hours"

Defense attorney William Sullivan, in his opening statement, admits Nathaniel killed Lauren.

"In most murder cases, the question is who? Who did it? That's not this case," the told the court. "This case there's-- there's gonna be two questions, why and how..."

"How does a young man ... there's not any evidence of him ever laying a finger on this young girl ... how does he do something like this?" Sullivan remarked to Tracy Smith. "I told the jury, 'you're gonna hear and see some very disturbing facts.'"

"...she died as a result of the combination of the strangulation and the incised wounds ... to her neck," Medical Examiner Henry Nields testified.

Nields said after Lauren was strangled with a bungee cord, she then suffered a number of superficial wounds to her neck before her throat was cut.

"Why these superficial, shallow wounds? He did that to hurt her," McGovern told "48 Hours". "Why did he deliver the gaping, deep wound? He did that to kill her."

The prosecution questioned Genevieve Flynn and Lauren's other friends about June 2011 -- the month between high school graduation and Lauren's murder.

"I saw Lauren pick up her hands and push them down her side as though she was saying, just stay away from me," Hannah testified.

Hannah Blahut testified about that graduation party where Nathaniel punched a pole holding up the party tent.

"Nate got angry that Lauren wasn't talking to him," good friend Chloe Jacques told "48 Hours". "He was being aggressive because he was very drunk."

McGovern believes Nathaniel's display of rage was an ominous prelude to killing Lauren.

"This is a domestic violence murder. This was perpetrated because of the relationship, which was a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship," McGovern told "48 Hours."

"The prosecution is painting this as a domestic violence-dating violence case," Smith noted to Sullivan. "Correct," he replied. 

But the defense disagrees.

"Nathaniel ... didn't stalk her. Didn't drive by her house. Wasn't calling her. Wasn't texting her. And none of that was present," Sullivan told Smith.

The defense wants the jury to focus on Nathaniel's behavior after graduation leading up to Lauren's murder:

Bill Sullivan: During that time those three weeks, be fair to say you didn't see the defendant at all.

R.J. Bolivar: I don't believe so.

"His friends had been saying they didn't want to hang out with him anymore because he had been acting differently," Chloe told "48 Hours".

Bill Sullivan: He's not hanging out with you guys anymore, right?

Connor Murphy: Right.

Friends Connor and R.J. testify Nathaniel had dropped out of their social circle.

Bill Sullivan: Is it fair to say that people were commenting that Nathaniel wasn't around?

R.J. Bolivar: Some people were, yeah.

"We didn't know what was wrong with him, but we were worried that something was seriously wrong," said Chloe.

And according to defense attorney Sullivan, something was seriously wrong.

"Nathaniel was suffering from a major mental illness," said Sullivan.


"Did it seem like he was slipping through the family's fingers?" Smith asked Mattingly.

"That's a good way to describe it," he replied. "Beth was a very concerned parent and she always had been."

Remember, Nathaniel's mother, Beth, had persuaded her son to see a psychiatrist.

His diagnosis: "Major clinical depression. Not just that you're feelin' down, but this was a major depressive episode," said Sullivan.

The psychiatrist suggested anti-depression medication and therapy, but according to the defense, Nathaniel refused.

"He was just kind of isolating himself further and further into the summer. Lauren was worried that he was depressed, that he was going to do something drastic to himself," Chloe explained.

It was Lauren's concern for Nathaniel that would bring her to the Fujita home on the night of July 3, 2011.

"The key moment is inside that garage ... what happened at the time of the killing," Sullivan told Smith.

At the time of the killing, Sullivan says, Nathaniel lapsed into a temporary psychotic episode that prevented him from controlling his actions or comprehending what he was doing.

"The defense is that Nathaniel was not criminally responsible at the time of the incident," Sullivan told Smith. "Because of the major mental illness."

"The defense, I would ask you to consider, is one of lack of criminal responsibility," Sullivan told the court.

It's the insanity defense. Defense expert Dr. Wade Meyers, a psychiatrist, evaluated Nathaniel after Lauren's murder.

Bill Sullivan: What did he tell you happened when Miss Astley arrived at the house?

Wade Meyers: They began walking towards the garage to talk. He remembered that he -- grabbed this -- bungee cord and put it around her neck and began strangling her. It was as though, he said, he wasn't controlling - himself. It was his body acting while his mind was -- was disconnected from-- from what was happening.

Meyers says Nathaniel was still in a psychotic episode when he

repeatedly cut Lauren's neck and throat:

"Again, describing -- not in control of what he was doing, but no emotional connection to what was happening," Dr. Meyers testified.

Closing arguments began on March 5, 2013.

"There is no planning involved in this case. The bungee cord is a weapon of opportunity, its just there in the garage ... It was a brief onset of this psychotic episode," Sullivan addressed the court.

Prosecutor Lisa McGovern zeroes in on Nathaniel's calculated cover up of Lauren's murder.

"Say what you will about fairy god mothers; there is no psychosis fairy who magically sprinkled a temporary dose of psychosis on this defendant," McGovern told jurors.

"The evidence shows, yes, he took the car to the beach. He hid the keys in the drain. ... He changed out of his bloody shoes into another pair of sneakers. ... He drives Lauren Astley's body to the marsh. He carries it 36 feet into the water. He drives back home. ... He cleans up the garage.

"He wasn't exhibiting a single symptom of psychosis. He was criminally responsible," McGovern continued. ""Members of the jury, Nathanial Fujita chose to act ... he chose to kill Lauren Astley, and his intention to kill and to murder was manifest ..."

"I know this boy. ... Nathaniel is not somebody who could kill," George Mattingly told Smith. "It's got to be mental illness it's got to be something that caused the boy that I knew to -- to be on the wrong end of something like this."

Justice for Lauren

For friends and family of Lauren Astley, the three-week murder trial was excruciating.

"Testifying was incredibly emotional for you," Tracy Smith noted to Genevieve Flynn.

"Yeah, it was horrible. ... I wanted to say the right thing to make sure the right thing happened for her," she replied in tears.

It was just as agonizing for Nathaniel's family on the other side of the courtroom.

"He seemed bewildered. I don't think he understands to this day why the killing of Lauren took place," George Mattingly said of his nephew.

"Our children make mistakes, even horrible horrible mistakes, that doesn't remove our caring," said Malcolm Astley.

Lauren's father knows there are complex issues in this case.

"Trying to hold people responsible for situations that are murky and we don't understand very well and trying to sort out the matter of mental health and how that applies in this kind of situation," Astley told Smith.

The verdict came after just one day of deliberations. Nathaniel Fujita was found guilty of murder in the first degree with deliberate premeditation and with extreme atrocity or cruelty.

Moments after the guilty verdict, Lauren's father did something no one expected. He made his way across the court room.

"You walked over to the Fujita family with open arms and hugged them. Why?" Smith asked.

"I was mainly sharing grief and wishing them comfort in the ongoing horror that they face," said Astley.

It was an extraordinary act of compassion and grace from a grieving father.

"...he is perhaps the most generous human being I have ever met," Mattingly said, tears streaming down his face.

"They are facing ongoing - equivalent of torture for the son for the rest of his life," said Astley.

Nathaniel, 21, is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"Awfully harsh," Mattingly said of the verdict. "Nathaniel does not deserve to be thrown away."

Despite the outcome at trial, the Fujita family believes mental illness drove Nathaniel to murder Lauren.

"... before his depression he was a young man with ... limitless possibilities ... now he is a warehoused person with a number," Mattingly said. "Mental illness is real and nobody asks for it..."

"When is he even going to apologize," Mary Dunne wondered.

"Do you have questions for him?" Smith asked.

"I wanna know when he started thinking about doing it," Dunne said. "I want to know what she was doing when he hurt her. Was she screaming? Was she calling out my name?"

"She went over to see that he was doing, OK. And he killed her. For going over to see if he was OK," Genevieve cried.

Lauren's mother believes her daughter's story should serve as a wakeup call.

"She walked right in to this," Mary Dunne said. "After you have broken up with somebody, you don't go and see that person alone ever!"

"I do think about Lauren all the time. She loved her life like I loved having her in my life and its not fair," said Hannah.

"He took her away from everyone," Genevieve said in tears, ".and she was like 18 years old."

Lauren's room remains as she left it. "Her prom dress is in there and a couple of other things that she liked. I love to touch those, it's the closest thing I can get to touching her," Astley said.

"It's terribly, terribly tough ... that sense of a future just cut off," he continued, watching a video of Lauren singing "Tomorrow".

"When I tell people that Lauren died, I wish I could just say, my sister died, because that's how strong it is and that's the way I feel," said Hannah.

"She was so happy about things, she was just so much fun to be around," said Genevieve.

"Life was much more fun when she was in it," Lauren's mother said. "I do miss her every day."

The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund has been created to help educate teens about healthy relationships.






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