Ex implicates Waterman in murder plot

Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

ANCHORAGE — Jurors heard a recorded interview Monday in which a Craig police officer described Rachelle Waterman as “an up and coming black widow” who played two men to do her bidding and murder her mother.

In the November 2004 interview conducted days after Lauri Waterman’s charred remains were found in her minivan, Sgt. Mark Habib tried to get Jason Arrant to tie his teenage girlfriend to her mother’s murder.

“You two have been scammed,” Habib told Arrant after he and Brian Radel, both 24 at the time, were identified as main suspects in the killing. “That girl played you guys.”

Arrant and Radel were convicted of the killing in 2006 and are serving long prison sentences. Waterman’s first trial ended in a hung jury. The recorded interview was played for jurors because Arrant has refused to testify in Waterman’s second trial, which is entering its second week in Superior Court in Anchorage.

Waterman is facing charges that include conspiracy to commit murder, murder and kidnapping.

Waterman, now 22, was 16 years old when her 48-year-old mother was taken from her home, beaten and suffocated before her body was burned in her minivan, leaving nothing but skeletal remains.

In the recording, jurors heard Arrant say that Waterman wanted her mother dead and knew it was going to happen. Rachelle Waterman and her father were out of town the weekend when Lauri Waterman was killed.

Arrant told police that before leaving for a volleyball tournament in Anchorage, Rachelle Waterman asked if they had the plan worked out. She told him her father was going to be away in Juneau.

“She told me it would be a good opportunity to take care of things — to kill Lauri,” Arrant said. “She did know it was going to happen.”

Arrant told Habib that Waterman called him the day she returned from Anchorage. She said she noticed that her mother wasn’t home and Arrant told her “it was done.”

“She didn’t say much,” he said.

Later, she asked for details but Arrant told her he didn’t want to talk about it.

When Habib pressed Arrant for some key element that would tie the girl to her mother’s murder, he encouraged police to find computer instant message chats between Waterman and himself.

“If you can find that, it can prove it,” he said.

Police seized at least four hard drives from several computers. Prosecutors have already presented some evidence to jurors, including e-mails between Arrant and Waterman and others.

Only Arrant can link Waterman to her mother’s death because there was very little direct contact between Waterman and Radel. Both men believed that Lauri Waterman was physically abusing her daughter. Arrant has said the killing was done to protect Rachelle Waterman.

“I know she wanted her dead,” Arrant told Habib. “She told me she wanted her dead.”

Habib had pointed out to Arrant that Waterman was already using their drunk driving accident cover story to explain her mother’s disappearance before the body was found. The girl was telling friends her mother probably got drunk and drove off a cliff, Habib said.

In an attempt to give credence to the story, Radel forced Lauri Waterman to drink nearly an entire bottle of wine before taking her from the home.

But Steven Wells, Waterman’s attorney, countered in court Monday that a wine bottle and one glass were left out at the house, and even Rachelle Waterman’s father, Doc Waterman, had driven from Craig to Klawock looking for signs of an accident.

A hunter found the burned minivan at the end of a logging road. Only a burnt shell remained of the car.

The gasoline-fueled fire burned super-hot, testified John Bond, a state deputy fire marshal.

Waterman turned her head away as large photos of her mother’s charred skeleton were shown to jurors.

Wells has said that Arrant lied to police to spare himself a life sentence.

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