Laura arrived in Pine Valley in the spring of 1995 after the death of her mother in their tenement apartment fire. Laura's neighbor in New York City, Nellie, had grown up in Pine Valley and told Laura how wonderful it was. Laura tried to steal a dress from Myrtle's Boutique, but was caught by Myrtle and given the dress as Myrtle was a friend of Nellie's in her carnie days. Laura stayed at Brooke English House on Brooke's advice and was beaten up her first night there. Thus, Laura began her belief in Brooke's hypocrisy and her distrust of anything having to do with Brooke. Laura met a very sick Janet Greene in the woods off the highway leading to Pine Valley. Together they were taken to Pierce Riley's cabin where he nursed them both into mental and physical health. Laura formed a mental attachment of the three of them as a family unit and was devastated to find Pierce kissing Brooke, who in her eyes was close to Medusa. Family Services placed Laura in Brooke's care when it was obvious that Laura could not stay in a cabin in the woods alone with a man (Pierce) who was not her father. Laura was enrolled in Pine Valley High School where she has made friends with Scott, Bobby, Anita, Kelsey and Kevin. Brooke came to love Laura even more and Laura, over a long period of time, came to love and admire Brooke (with Janet's help).
Brooke has recently legally adopted Laura and managed to get Pierce and Brooke back together---for at least a while. On a trip to New York after graduation, Laura was forced to confront memories from her childhood. She bumped into a bag lady who had come in contact with a shawl that belonged to Laura's mother.
Laura was stunned when Brooke brought home a man named "Jim Thomasen" after the plane crash. Jim, known to Laura as "J.T.", used to take pornographic pictures of her back in New York. A few weeks after Jim came to Pine Valley. Laura was kidnapped by a drug addict, Ricky, hired by Jim. Ricky was a young punk kid from New York that posed in the pictures Jim took of Laura. Jim once again played a hero by "saving" Laura from Ricky. Laura wanted to tell Brooke that Jim was the man who had taken the photos of her, but he held something over her head: the "murder" of her mother. Jim had given Laura a copy of the photos he'd taken of her. Laura went into the basement of the building she and her mother were living in and torched the photos. The blaze got out of control and it spread. Laura's mother was unable to escape the inferno. Laura decided, with help from Jim that she needed to make a new start away from Pine Valley. Jim suggested Boston, where nobody would know her. Laura left for Boston to pursue a job as a counselor, helping disadvantaged kids at the beginning of January 1998. Laura returned to Pine Valley when she learned that Brooke planned to marry Jim. From there, Jim's demise was imminent. Laura finally came clean about the photographs that had been taken of her and her mother's death. To protect Laura from further harm, Brooke arranged for Laura to go to China with a friend's family.
Laura returned to Pine Valley in fall 2000, hoping to help her mother deal with the return of the man who had killed her daughter. Laura's return found her with a new twist in her life -- romance. Laura fell head of heels for Leo du Pres, but Leo wasn't as interested in Laura as she was in him. Leo moved on with his life and became engaged to Greenlee Smythe. The relationship drove Laura crazy. It also drove her to experimentation with drugs. Throughout this time, Laura's friendship with Bianca flourished. Unknown to Laura, was that Bianca's feelings went beyond friendship.
In spring 2001, an ecstasy overdose aggravated a pre-existing heart condition that Laura didn't even know she had. A cardiologist on staff at Pine Valley Hospital determined that Laura's condition was quite grave - and potentially deadly. Erica and Brooke put aside their differences to become an unlikely pair, determined to free Dr. David Hayward from jail so that he could do risky surgery to attempt to save or prolong Laura's life. The two women put aside their differences, brought together by a common bond: motherhood. Later that spring, a frantic Brooke English begged Leo du Pres to pretend to be interested in Laura so that this romantic interest would spur Laura to fight for her life. Leo initially refused, but over time he and Laura grew more and more close. It was suspect if Leo truly loved Laura, but it was clear that he really did care for Laura and wanted to see her recover fully. On June 18th, Leo popped the question to a hospitalized Laura -- and she accepted. Just two days later, the pair married in Laura's hospital room with Brooke, Bianca Montgomery, Best Man David Hayward, and nurse Zora in attendance. However, in spite of her happiness, Laura's health continued to deteriorate rapidly and the only possible way to save her life was with a heart transplant. In a macabre twist of fate, Gillian Andrassy Lavery was shot and killed just hours before Laura's health started to fail. Ryan gave permission to have Gillian's heart donated to Laura and Laura was wheeled into surgery.
Laura's life seemed grand after she came home from the hospital with a new heart, and a new husband. But things didn't stay that way for long, Laura started to crack up, and kept thinking Leo was cheating on her with Greenlee. She also tried numerous times to set Greenlee up to get her out of Leo and her life's forever. Brooke had Greenlee arrested for violating a restraining order to stay away for Laura and Leo. Greenlee was also accused of stealing Laura's heart medication, but it turned out that Laura had made up the theft accusations. While all of this was going on, Laura was planning to renew her wedding vows with Leo. The day of the ceremony, Leo realized that his marriage to Laura was a sham - he didn't really love her. Leo refused to say "I do" and the ceremony was a washout when the sprinkler system went off and soaked all of those in attendance. Laura was furious with Greenlee and started to spiral dangerously out of control. Her attitude became very sour and Laura lashed out at everyone close to her. In the end, however, Laura realized that she needed help and agreed to seek out professional counseling outside of Pine Valley.