December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Police say Elyria man confessed to killing woman, says she wanted bath salts

ELYRIA — While he was being treated for a suicide attempt after allegedly killing Lauren Moore on May 30, Vernon Shallenberger confessed to beating Moore with a metal baseboard heater cover, Elyria police Detective Randy Baker said during a hearing Wednesday in Elyria Municipal Court.

Baker said Shallenberger told an EMH Elyria Medical Center nurse that he struck Moore during an argument in their Washington Avenue apartment. Shallenberger, 27, claimed that Moore, 26, was clawing at him in attempt to get to bath salts she believed he had hidden in his shirt.

Shallenberger, who also said he tried to restrain Moore, had scratches on his abdomen, Baker said.

Police went to the couple’s apartment after Shallenberger’s brother kicked in the bathroom door at their mother’s house and found Shallenberger in the bathtub with his wrists cut, Baker said.

Shallenberger’s wrists were still bandaged as he sat in the courtroom Wednesday. He hung his head for most of the hearing.

Shallenberger’s mother told police that she was concerned about Moore’s well-being because both Moore and her son had a history of using bath salts, which cause violent hallucinations. Police were called to the couple’s apartment twice for bath salt-related incidents in the days before Moore was killed, Baker said.

In the first instance, Moore was taken to EMH for treatment for ingesting bath salts. In the second incident on May 26, Shallenberger called police to report he had fled the apartment with the couple’s children after hearing gunfire.

A family member ended up taking custody of their three children, who range from 4 months to 6 years old, that night.

When police arrived at the apartment May 30, they found Moore in the blood-spattered back bedroom. The room was in disarray and a closet door had been broken, Baker said. The heater cover was lying next to Moore’s body.

A neighbor reported hearing an argument sometime in the morning hours of May 30, Baker said, including someone saying “stop, stop, stop.” Another neighbor saw Shallenberger leave around 11 a.m.

Baker said it appeared that Shallenberger drove to his mother’s house in Moore’s 2010 Chevrolet Impala, took a shower and later returned to the apartment. He then drove back to his mother’s house and attempted suicide, Baker said.

When defense attorney Paul Griffin asked whether Shallenberger and Moore were high on bath salts at the time of the killing, Baker said police were still waiting for the results of toxicology reports.

Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans has said Moore died from blunt force trauma to her head and neck. Baker said she had other injuries and had been choked as well.

Elyria Municipal Court Judge Gary Bennett determined there was probable cause to send the murder charge Shallenberger faces to a county grand jury.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.