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Laura McKinney 1991
Laura in 1991
Laura McKinney
Portrayed by Cassidy Freeman
Episode True Calling
Status Deceased (1991)

Laura McKinney was the victim in "True Calling". She was a 22-year-old social studies teacher at an inner city school, Reeves High School.

Laura was a Harvard graduate who hoped to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children through Teach For America. Despite resistance from her students and colleagues, such as Margaret Trudlow, she persevered in helping those at Reeves reach their potential. Laura used outside-the-box teaching methods in place of the school's inadequate curriculum, such as having her students read about current events in newspapers and taking them on field trips.

One of her students, Darnell Brent, developed a crush on Laura, but she firmly turned him down. She also eventually connected with the troubled Renaldo Ramos, recognizing his budding talent as a writer.

Unfortunately, Laura's desire to help Renaldo led to her murder. She found out her colleague, Kenneth Yates, had hired Renaldo to bring him the fix of drugs he bought. Horrified and determined, Laura confronted Kenneth about his misdeeds and urged him to resign for both his and Renaldo's sakes, in exchange for promising not to talk about this again. However, Kenneth refused, so Laura threatened to report him. He went ballistic and it would end with Laura being chased down and fatally shot by Kenneth, all in front of a shaken Renaldo, who went with Laura to watch out for her.

Laura was assumed to have been killed in a carjacking gone wrong. Renaldo was guilt-ridden that she died standing up for him, causing him to be expelled and delve into a life of crime.

In 2008, Laura's case was reopened after Darnell, having become a teacher like her, found her car keys in her old desk. The cold case team was led to Renaldo, who eventually told the police about Kenneth, leading him to be arrested for murder.

Darnell began using Laura's teaching methods in his class at Reeves High School with Margaret's approval, hoping to inspire his students like she did him. The school had a memorial with flowers dedicated to Laura, acknowledging the difference she made there. In the epilogue, Renaldo imagines seeing Laura while he is reading a GED brochure.

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