North Shore Memories of Laurie Dann's Violent Rampage

Twenty-five years ago today, Dann went on a violent spree that left an 8-year-old boy dead, and included arsenic-laced Rice Krispies treats, three pistols, a can of gasoline and a firebomb.

It seems hard to believe that there was a time when the term "school shooting" hadn't entered our vernacular.

But 25 years ago, when Laurie Dann did just that at Hubbard Woods school in Winnetka — in addition to attempting to poison, burn and shoot many others in a violent rampage in the North Shore — such episodes were virtually unheard of. 

Patch asked readers what their memories are of May 20, 1988, when Dann went on a crime spree that included arsenic-laced Rice Krispies treats, three pistols, a can of gasoline and a firebomb. The Glencoe native killed 8-year-old Nicky Corwin and wounded five other children at Hubbard Woods Elementary, and threw a firebomb into Ravinia Elementary School in Highland Park, which fizzled out before harming anyone. 

"I still remember being on lock down at a nearby school. I couldn't sleep for months after it happened. Gives me chills to this day," wrote reader JE Communications.

Patch reader Diane Crotty wrote, "I remember that day as though it were yesterday; a nightmarish day for us all."

Reader Joan Bien's memories prompt her to think about the proliferation of guns in our society. She wrote: "Being close to one of the victims, I think about it a lot. What angers me is that we didn't learn squat from it. Guns are much more popular now, almost to the point of hoarding. Students have proven to be easy, soft targets."

Ralph Hanline, wrote in to say he had retired from the Winnetka Police Department two years prior to the incident. He wrote: "Although she was known by us, she was never in any kind of serious trouble. I had returned to my home state of NC, and was kind of surprised to hear of the incident. I also remember it was probably one of the first School Shootings like that ever. A good girl gone bad."

Were you living in the area 25 years ago? What are your memories of that horrific day?  

Antonia Duhe May 21, 2013 at 02:01 PM
It was a horrific day. What rarely gets mentioned is that Dann was in a new drug Prozac...and was getting Prozac illegally from Canada from her Psyvhiatrist as it was not yet approved for use here. She was on two different medications as stated in the papers at the time. All but two school shooters has been on Prozac.. Perhaps more attention should be paid to the medications that kids are on ...in unison with the violent video games and violent media that twists young minds ...and the murderous connection to school shootings rather than to guns. We've had guns for our entire history...and the stats on gun violence show the shootings have declined for the last thirty years.
Winnetka May 21, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Catherine...you are correct. Fact: School security was woefully inadequate or non-existent which enabled Dann, et al to enter these schools. I think people find it easier to blame a thing, rather than policy shortcomings created by people for these tragedies.
Billy May 22, 2013 at 02:09 PM
So correct. Many of the same conversations from 1988 are still vibrant today, only now, it seems even more focus is concentrated on the gun issue. Looking at Dann's - and virtually every other mass shooting - case, its clear that her mental health played a major role. Her parents were not cooperative with police, even taking measures to withhold her mental health records from them. At least one of the victims' families sued them.
Shaking my head May 23, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Dear AIDS. Your sarcasm is noted and I add that my point was regarding the family as caring about others. They weren't wealthy people but what they had was generously shared to better the world. They weren't the "JUF socialites" who reveled in the see and be seen social events staged by high profile charities. It was sad that people like this who tried to make the world a better place had a daughter who did such a heinous act as did Laurie. Also to note is the fact that Laurie Dann was an adult, thus not as controllable as would be a child.
fred May 24, 2013 at 04:53 AM
I remember that day well. The Police Chief of Winnetka said on TV that "If it could happen here, it could happen anywhere, believe me". Dann was nuts, a complete psycho, period. To those who say guns are an issue, what about the arsenic poisoning she attempted and the gasoline bombs? She was set to kill. It was believed she attempted to kill her ex with a knife. They (parents and psychiatrist) urged her institutionalization after the age of 30. It was not long prior to this that institutionalization went by the wayside except for the suicidal and homicidal. Sometime later, a gun restriction that mentally unstable could not own firearms came about, which I do happen to agree with. One of the very few gun laws I believe is a good law. Others just tend to mess with our independence. She was truly one of the earlier nuts who shot up schools. Let's not forget the other psycho nut in Calif for whom the "I don't like Mondays" tune was created by the Boomtown Rats.


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