While other 16-year-olds dated, went to parties and stayed out late, Michelle Lambert went to church three times a week, had to be in bed by ten, was forbidden to bring boys to the house, and was told that wearing a miniskirt was a mortal sin. No wonder her high school classmates at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, called her a prude and a goody-goody, but her parents, Judy and Len Lambert, believed in old-fashioned values, and while she lived at home, Michelle would have to conform. Len Lambert, a former Air Force officer, and now an accountant, ran a strict Presbyterian household — no smoking, no drinking, no rock and roll music and certainly no casual relationships. Michelle accepted that's how things were, that until she left home, she would have to accept a lifestyle that belonged to another age. Then, in July 1989, on a beautiful Pennsylvania summer day, something happened to Michelle Lambert which meant that she no longer feared her father or worried about the consequences of defying him.
On that day she met the man who would become her whole world and would bring violent tragedy which would change their lives for ever. Michelle was at a swimming pool in nearby Pioneer Woods with her brother Jeremy when she was introduced to the pool's lifeguard, a young man with a golden tan, bright blue eyes and hair so blond it was almost white.
His name was Lawrence Yunkin and he was 20. He was, Michelle was to remember later, the most attractive man she had ever seen. Lawrence Yunkin was pretty impressed by the tall willowy brunette, too. He asked her out. That night they saw the movie Batman, and the next night he took her to meet his parents. "I liked her," his mother, Jackie would recall. She was a polite young lady. On their next date, Lawrence appeared with a large bunch of roses and asked Michelle to marry him when she was 18. She agreed and for the next two years they had a passionate, though often tempestuous, relationship, of which Michelle's parents not surprisingly, totally disapproved. When he visited the Lambert home it invariably ended in unpleasantness and sometimes violence — twice he got in a fight with Michelle's brother after Jeremy Lambert said that Yunkin was a bad influence on his sister. He seems to have had a point — Judy and Len Lambert had noticed that money and other property was missing from the house. When they confronted Michelle she admitted that she had stolen $500 and her father's coin collection after Yunkin had told her he was short of money. This was the final straw for the Lamberts. In September 1991, soon after their daughter's 19th birthday, they told her to leave the house for good, and even delivered a letter to the local police department which warned that if Michelle didn't stay away she would be prosecuted for theft.
The letter continued: "You are not permitted on our property at any time, you are not to call our home for any reason and you are not to bother or disturb us in any way." It also stipulated that she was not to contact her father at work or her brother at school.
Michelle moved with Yunkin into a shabby apartment in a neighbouring suburb and, as they had wished, did not contact her parents. Not even when, in November 1991, she found she was pregnant. At first, Yunkin seemed delighted by the prospect of becoming a father, but soon Michelle thought she detected a change in his attitude towards her and suspected he was seeing someone.
She was right. Yunkin had met 17-year-old high school girl Laurie Show and soon they were having secret assignations. They went to the shops, the local zoo, a swimming pool. Not knowing that Yunkin already had a girlfriend, Laurie's parents, John and Hazel invited him to the house to watch television. John Show would later say: "He seemed a nice enough guy although I thought that at 20 he was a bit old for my daughter." But when Hazel inadvertently heard about the pregnancy she was quick to bring the relationship to an end. She told Yunkin: "You have a problem you need to take care