Laurie Dann was known at The Towers
in Madison, WI
as the Psycho Elevator Lady
. She rode up and down the elevators at regular intervals getting
off, changing floors and getting back on. She wouldn't touch the buttons with her finger, using a
pencil or the sleeve of her shirt. She also spent many hours sitting in front of the television in
the lobby, sometimes changing channels for long periods of time, and sometimes watching only static.
Dann came to Madison in 1987 to participate in a study on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. During
meetings with doctors it was discovered she had frequent thoughts of hurting herself and others. She
would make dozens of calls in the middle of the night to people she knew telling them they were going
to die, she was going to kill them, and that she was a sick psychopath. She had stabbed her former
husband, Russell Dann, with an ice pick while he was sleeping. During this time she had also been
Back in her hometown of Glencoe, Illinois four of the people she was making harassing phone calls to,
met with police. They were concerned not only about the calls they were receiving, but that she often
babysat young kids. When they were told that little could be done they replied with comments "She's a
ticking time bomb" "Does someone have to die before something is done"
Dann began preparing rice cereal snacks and juice boxes poisoned arsenic she had stolen. She mailed
some to a former friend, ex-babysitting clients, her psychiatrist, Ex-husband, and others. She
personally delivered snacks and juice "samples" to other friends, acquaintances, and families for
whom she had babysat. Other snacks she delivered to fraternity houses at Northwestern University.
The drinks were often leaking and the snacks unpleasant tasting, so little was actually consumed. In
addition, the arsenic was highly diluted and as a result nobody was made seriously ill.
May 20, 1988
Dann picked up two children of a family she used to sit for. Instead of taking them on the promised
outing, she took them to Ravinia Elementary School in Highland Park, Illinois, attended by her
former sister-in-law's two sons, and left them in the car while she entered the school and tried to
detonate a fire bomb in a hallway. The small fire she set was quickly extinguished by a teacher. She
then drove to a local daycare attended by her ex-sister-in-law's daughter, but was prevented by staff
from entering the building with a plastic container of gasoline. Returning her two passengers to
their home, she offered them some arsenic-poisoned milk, but the boys spat it out as it tasted
strange. Once at their home, she used gasoline to set fire to the house, briefly trapping the mother
and two children in the basement.
Dann then went to the Hubbard Woods School with her three handguns. She shot at several groups of
the students. She killed Nicholas Corwin, and wounded two girls and three other boys before fleeing
in her car. Eventually she reached the house of the Andrew family. She told them that she had been
raped and had shot the rapist in the struggle. The family couldn't get her to give up her gun. When
Dann realized the police were approaching she shot the son in the chest, but he managed to escape
out the back door before collapsing and being rescued. She went upstairs to a bedroom. With her
parents and ex-husband outside the house trying to calm her, an assault team entered the house. The
police found her body in the bedroom, she had shot herself in the mouth.
Book written about her life
“Murder of Innocence: The Tragic Life and Final Rampage of Laurie Dann, the Schoolhouse Killer”
by Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn and Eric Zorn, Warner Books
“Murder of Innocence”
Laurie Dann (née Wasserman) (30)
Nicholas Corwin (8)