true crime

23 years after Lauren's mum was murdered, her killer was found. It wasn't who they thought.

This story discusses domestic violence and assault.

Lauren Preer's mum Leslie was brutally torn from her life when she was just 23 years old.

On May 2, 2001, Leslie, who worked at a successful advertising firm in Maryland, USA, failed to show up at the office.

Her colleagues immediately knew something was wrong - it wasn't like Leslie to let anyone down. According to police reports, after not being able to reach Leslie by phone, her boss Brett Reidy drove to the family home, where together with Carl Preer, Leslie's husband, they entered the house to make a grizzly discovery.

The walls were spattered with blood. There were signs of a struggle, and a puddle of water lay by the front door. Upstairs, in the master bathroom shower stall, Lauren's mum lay face down, with several lacerations to the back of her head. 

She was dead, with a medical examiner later ruling blunt force trauma as her cause of death. 

Numb from shock, Lauren was forced to confront several horrific realities at once. Not only was her mother gone - brutally murdered inside the family home but now, her father was a suspect.

Leslie Preer, Lauren's mum, was murdered at their family home in 2001. Image: Montgomery County Police.


According to the Washington Post, Carl "Sandy" Preer was under police suspicion in the immediate aftermath of the murder - though Lauren never once doubted his innocence. Thankfully, he was ruled out by DNA evidence shortly thereafter: Leslie had fought back, and her killer's DNA was collected from underneath her fingernails.

Carl Preer died in 2017—officially from septic shock, though Lauren insists it was a broken heart that killed him. He went to his grave never knowing the identity of his wife's killer, though last week, Lauren might just have got the answer she's been asking detectives—and God—for.


Lauren with her mum, Leslie and dad, Carl at her graduation from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1995. Image: Montgomery County Police.

On Tuesday, June 18, the now-46-year-old Lauren received a phone call from cold case detectives who had been working on her mother's case.


They told her they had DNA evidence. And when they told her the name of her mother's killer, all she could say was "no."

Lauren knew the name they'd given her. It was a name she'd spoken a thousand times over, the name of a person who had sat around the island bench in her kitchen, eating pasta her mother had made. A name who joined her on family beach holidays and played board games with her parents. A name her mother had always spoken fondly.

The name was Eugene Gligor, and he was Lauren's high school boyfriend.

Lauren and Eugene had both been students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School when she'd fallen for him at 16, a handsome boy she remembered as "kind and warm".

His parents had gone through a divorce, and while Lauren told reporters he had struggled with this, there were no outward signs of violence.

The pair dated for five years, breaking it off after Lauren finished her second year of university. While Lauren was the one to instigate the split, she says Eugene appeared to take it well.

They cut off contact, and then a few years later, Leslie was murdered.

Chillingly, it wasn't long after the funeral when Lauren bumped into Eugene in a bar. In the first conversation they'd had in years, she told him about her mother's murder. She says he responded with, "I'm so sorry."


As the years - and then decades - passed since Leslie's murder, the case appeared to go cold.

Lauren, however, kept phoning detectives and asking for answers. 

Then, in September 2022, detectives submitted evidence for something called forensic genetic genealogy analysis - whereby DNA from crime scenes is analysed against the ever-growing database of DNA submitted to commercial genealogy sites such as 23 and Me or

It's the same technology that linked Rex Heuermann with the Gilgo Beach murders, via a pizza crust he threw into the garbage while eagle-eyed detectives surveilled him.

It's also the same technology that finally nabbed the Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo, who consequently plead guilty to the murder of 13 people, the rape of around 50 women and committing burglaries across California during the 1970s and 80s.

And now, say detectives, it's linked Eugene Gligor to the murder of his ex-girlfriend's mother, though police have not said precisely how this link was made.

Early last month, investigators retrieved a used water bottle Gligor threw into an airport garbage bin in order to make the DNA match; they arrested him shortly afterwards.

Gligor has been charged with first-degree murder and is currently awaiting extradition to Montgomery County where he will appear in front of a judge.


Watch: Leslie's daughter, Lauren Preer speaks up about her mum's murderer. Post continues after video.

Video via Fox 5 Washington DC.

Assistant Chief Nicholas Augustine of the Montgomery County Police Department told WTTG-TV the investigative work as very tedious, requiring dedication from detectives.

"We will go many years, whether it's 20 or 40 years, to find out the answers and hold people accountable for violent incidents that happened in the past," he added.

For Lauren, who plans to be there at Gligor's hearing to "give him a piece of my mind," the news has left so many unanswered questions. 

"It's been a hell of a day," she told reporters.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)—the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature image: Courtesy of Montgomery County Police.