Lauren Tanski, 26, a petite and spunky brunette, had just moved from Albany, N.Y., to New Orleans in October and was ready to embark on a new and exciting chapter of her life. On Sunday evening, she left her work at a French Quarter oyster house around 8 p.m. and told her friends she was going home for the night. She was never seen again.
Mere hours later, Tanski’s badly beaten and strangled body was found inside of her 7th Ward home, and while police haven’t named any suspects or motive in the death, investigators are seeking to question Henry “Hank” Dolliole.
According to shaken coworkers of Tanski’s, Dolliole is the ex-boyfriend of Tanski’s roommate, Samantha Placek, 32. Both women worked as waitresses at the Corner Oyster House and employees there say the 39-year-old Dolliole had made threats against Placek just hours before Tanski was killed.
“He was clearly crazy and always seemed like he was on something, but I just can’t believe something this horrible happened to her,” Tanski’s co-worker Andrew Santiago, 25, said.
“He came in earlier in the night and was threatening to kill Samantha,” said a coworker who didn’t want to be identified.
“He mocked having a gun and put it to his head and told her, ‘I’m gonna kill you! You’re not getting away,’“ he said, adding that Dolliole had been estranged from Placek for months but had continued frequenting the corner outside the bar and had often threatened her life.
Dolliole’s rap sheet includes several drug arrests, and in July 1992, he was booked with attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery, although those charges were later dropped.
Santiago said Tanski had moved into Placek’s apartment in the 2000 block of Urquhart Street a couple of months ago, and that while Dolliole had never made threats against Tanski, she was unhappy in her living situation and had been planning to move out of the house Monday.
She never got the chance.
According to Tanski’s father, Leonard Tanski, his daughter was a creative free spirit who loved photography and writing. She attended college at SUNY Cobleskill in Albany but later transferred and finished up a liberal arts degree at a university in Virginia.
“She had just come home for Christmas, we just dropped her off at the airport a couple weeks ago,” said a shaken Tanski when reached by phone at his Albany home.
“You always see it on the news, but it’s always someone else’s kid, never yours. Now it’s happened to ours and we just can’t understand how this could happen. It’s too awful,” he said.
[Editor’s Note: Henry Dolliole has since confessed to the murder and been arrested.]