EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Was the 1993 death of Lori Lee Malloy the result of a heart problem, or something more sinister?
That’s what her daughter Lauren Malloy has been trying to find out.
Lauren was 18 months old when her mother was found dead in her East Providence apartment.
Officers who responded found the front door ajar and the bathroom faucet running, as well as slices of bread and tufts of hair scattered around Lori’s lifeless body. Two empty drinking glasses were also found on a coffee table in the kitchen.
Lori’s death was initially investigated as a homicide, according to a police report. But the state medical examiner later determined the 30-year-old had died of natural causes.
An autopsy revealed Lori had no major injuries nor drugs in her system, and concluded she had died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
For 27 years, Lauren thought her mother had succumbed to a heart condition.
It wasn’t until she received a strange phone call from her mother’s old friend that she began searching for the truth.
“She said, ‘Hey, you know that story everybody told you that she had a heart attack? Well that was a lie. She was murdered and the state got it wrong,'” Lauren recalled.
The call sparked what became a nearly three-year effort to get her mother’s case reopened.
Just last month, investigators exhumed Lori’s body to take a second look.
“There are a lot of unknowns with her case,” Lauren said. “The one thing I do know, is that it’s finally moving forward.”
Retired East Providence Police Detective Lt. Raymond Blinn spoke to Lauren back in 2021 when she began her search for answers.
“In talking to her, it made a lot of sense,” Blinn said. “It’s not something you have happen all the time. In my particular case, it was the first time I had someone come forward to talk about a potential cold case.”
In 1999, six years after Lori’s death, the doctor who completed her autopsy had roughly 200 of his other reports reviewed by the chief medical examiner. The review began with autopsies he completed in May 1993 — two months after he concluded Lori died of natural causes.
In 2022, Lauren had another forensic pathologist look at her mom’s autopsy report. In an email, he told her, “more investigation is needed and the originally listed cause of death is unlikely to be correct.”
East Providence detectives are now awaiting updated findings from the medical examiner, as well as guidance from the Rhode Island Attorney General.
When asked for his “gut feeling,” Blinn said he believes the case warrants a second look.
Meanwhile, Lauren’s push for answers has been a way for her to channel her grief.
“Everybody always says, ‘I hope you’ll find some closure from this,'” she said. “I don’t think there is such a thing as closure, but we can go for justice.”
Lauren remains hopeful that the state will release the results soon, but it remains to be seen exactly what information will be gleaned from the examination of Lori’s body, including whether it will spark a murder investigation or close the case once and for all.