“I did it. I can’t believe it. I did it.”
Those were the first words 18-year-old Eric Tavulares said to police when they arrived. It was just after 3 a.m. on July 19, and officers were responding to a call at 2465 N. Frederick Ave. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The responding officer walked Tavulares into the kitchen at the residence and questioned him. What had he done, after all?
Tavulares said, “I killed her.”
Lauren Aljubouri, also 18, lay dead in a nearby bedroom. A responding officer checked for a pulse, found none, and made observations: Aljubouri’s lips were blue; there were bruises around her eyes.
Back in the kitchen, Eric Tavulares made his actions plain. He’d strangled the girl in the bedroom, he said. They were watching a movie, and then he strangled her. Eric had known Lauren since 2nd grade. They’d been a sometimes-maybe couple since the 6th grade.
The criminal complaint against Eric revealed in clinical detail what was done to his childhood sweetheart: “external contusions and abrasions to her neck, hemorrhaging of her neck strap muscle” and “a fracture of her hyoid bone.”
Even after the police read Eric Tavulares his rights, he told the story of the evening.
Eric and Lauren got together that night to watch Natural Born Killers, the 1994 serial killer flick starring Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. Eric apparently loved the movie; he said he’d seen 10 to 20 times.
According to Eric, he and Lauren stopped the movie halfway through and decided to go to bed. As they sat in bed talking, Eric said something made him ‘switch mentally.’ He began choking Lauren. They struggled for nearly 5 minutes, rolling from bed to floor. Lauren tried to say “stop” near the end, but finally she went out. Eric said he tried CPR, but it was too late.
It’s hard to ignore a few things — for instance, the criminal complaint against Eric said he was supposed to study fire science in college next year. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not all fire science students are psychopaths. But some sadistic psychopaths certainly find themselves drawn to fire. At one point, FBI behavioral analysts even ginned up something called “the homicidal triad” — animal bloodletting, fire-setting and bed-wetting. Get those three things in a kid, and you may just have a serial killer on the rise.
Then there was this weird MySpace profile, created by an Eric Tavulares in Hartland, WI in 2005. The profile owner gave his age as 38, but the photo was of a teen who resembled the mugshot of Tavulares posted online. The pursuits listed on the profile were a teen’s pursuits as well: “guitar. skating. chiefing.”
There wasn’t much left on the profile by 2008, but there was enough to get a sense of Tavulares’s strangeness. He said was bi and that he’d like to meet “hot people. boys and girls alike. it dont matter to me ; )” His headline read, “anything jesus does, i can do better.” Natural Born Killers wasn’t listed as a favorite movie, but it didn’t need to be. The profile possibly being owned at one point by a teen (would have only been 15 at the time) who was openly bisexual and maybe even looking to meet new, older people via the Web shows at the very least someone who is prematurely comfortable with risk-taking, irresponsible behavior.
It will be a big surprise if there isn’t some history of fire-setting and perhaps even animal abuse in Eric Tavulares’s past.
People might try to blame the ultra-violent Oliver Stone movie for Eric’s actions, but that would be stupid. Psychos seek out their own stimulation. Artistic expression can’t exist in a free society unless people are allowed to make such movies. But the murder wasn’t about the movie at all — it was about Eric Tavulares, and maybe about a bloodlust he’d been nurturing for years. He admitted to police that he just ‘switched’ and strangled his childhood sweetheart to death. You can’t have a conscience and do such a thing.
[The Smoking Gun, Drudge, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.]