Danny Harold Rolling (May 26, 1954 – October 25, 2006), also known as the Gainesville Ripper, was an American serial killer who murdered five students in Gainesville, Florida over four days in late August 1990. Rolling later confessed to raping several of his victims, committing an additional November 4, 1989, triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana, and attempting to murder his father in May 1990. In total, Rolling confessed to killing eight people. Rolling was sentenced to death for the murders in 1994. He was executed by lethal injection in 2006.
In August 1990, Rolling murdered five students (one student from Santa Fe College and four from the University of Florida) during a burglary and robbery spree in Gainesville, Florida. He mutilated his victims' bodies, decapitating one. He then posed them, sometimes using mirrors.
In the early morning hours of Friday, August 24, Rolling broke into the apartment shared by 17-year-old university freshmen Sonja Larson and Christina Powell. Finding Powell asleep on the downstairs couch, he stood over her briefly but did not wake her up, choosing instead to explore the upstairs bedroom where Larson was also asleep. Rolling murdered Larson, first taping her mouth shut to stifle her screams and then stabbing her to death. She died while trying to fend him off. Rolling then went back downstairs, taped Powell's mouth shut, bound her wrists together behind her back and threatened her with a knife as he cut her clothes off of her. He then raped her and forced her face-down onto the floor, where he stabbed her five times in the back. Rolling posed the bodies in sexually provocative positions. But, before leaving, he took a shower then left the apartment.
A day later, on Saturday, August 25, Rolling broke into the apartment of 18-year-old Christa Hoyt, prying open a sliding glass door with a KA-BAR knife and a screwdriver. Finding she was not home, he waited in the living room for her to return. At 11 a.m., Hoyt entered the apartment and Rolling surprised her from behind, placing her in a chokehold. After she had been subdued, he taped her mouth shut, bound her wrists together and led her into the bedroom, where he cut the clothes from her body and raped her. As in the Powell murder, he forced her face-down and stabbed her in the back, rupturing her heart. He then decapitated the body and posed her head on a shelf facing the corpse, adding to the shock of whoever discovered her.
By now the murders had attracted widespread media attention and many students were taking extra precautions, such as changing their daily routines and sleeping together in groups. Because the spree was happening so early in the fall semester, some students withdrew their enrollment or transferred to other schools. 23-year-old Tracy Paules was living with Manny Taboada, also 23, her roommate. On Monday, August 27, Rolling broke into the apartment by prying open the sliding glass door with the same tools he had used previously. Rolling found Taboada asleep in one of the bedrooms and, after a struggle with the young man, eventually killed him. Hearing the commotion, Paules went down the hall to Taboada's bedroom and saw Rolling. She attempted to barricade herself in her bedroom, but Rolling broke through the door. Rolling taped her mouth and wrists, cut off her clothing and raped her, before turning her over and stabbing her three times in the back. Rolling posed Paules' body but left Taboada's in the same position in which he had died.
With the exception of Taboada, all of the victims were petite Caucasian brunettes with brown eyes. Although law enforcement initially had very few leads, police did identify two suspects; one a University of Florida student (Edward Humphrey) who had a history of mental illness and bore numerous scars on his face from a car accident, making him an ideal image when discussing news about the investigation. His photo was shown repeatedly by media outlets. Authorities publicly cleared him of all charges after Rolling's arrest. The other suspect was also later cleared.
Later, on September 7, 1990, Rolling was arrested in Ocala on a burglary charge and, in the course of that investigation, his tools were matched to marks left at the Gainesville murder scenes. The small one-man camp where he was living was in a wooded area located near the apartment complexes frequented by students, including those of the victims. There, investigators discovered recordings Rolling had made of himself singing country songs that he had composed and audio diaries alluding to the crimes. He was charged with several counts of murder in November 1991.
Rolling was brought to trial by Alachua County State Attorney Len Register nearly four years after the murders. He claimed his motive was to become a "superstar" similar to Ted Bundy. In 1994, before his trial could get underway, Rolling unexpectedly pled guilty to all charges. Subsequently, State Attorney Rod Smith presented the penalty phase of the prosecution. Rolling was sentenced to death on each count. During his trial, Court TV conducted an interview with Rolling's mother from her home, during which his father could be heard shouting off-camera. Rolling was sentenced to death on April 20, 1994.
Rolling was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and paraphilia.
After Rolling was arrested, police in Louisiana alerted the authorities in Florida to an unsolved triple murder in Shreveport on November 4, 1989. Detectives noted that there were similarities between the Gainesville murders and those of 55-year-old William Grissom, his 24-year-old daughter Julie, and his eight-year-old grandson Sean. The family had been attacked in their home as they were preparing for dinner. Afterwards, Julie Grissom's body had been mutilated, cleaned, and posed.
Shortly before he was executed in Florida for the series of killings in Gainesville, Danny Rolling handed his spiritual adviser Rev. Mike Hudspeth and Florida police a handwritten confession and apology to the grisly triple murders he committed 17 years before in his home town of Shreveport.
Rolling was executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison on October 25, 2006, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal. He was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m EDT. Rolling's last meal consisted of a lobster tail served with drawn butter, butterfly shrimp with cocktail sauce, a baked potato with sour cream and butter, strawberry cheesecake, and sweet tea. Rolling sang a gospel hymn, but made no statement immediately prior to his execution, which was witnessed by many of his victims' relatives. In a written statement made shortly before his execution, Rolling confessed to the murders of the Grissom family in Shreveport.
Rolling has been the subject of several written works. His murders inspired screenwriter Kevin Williamson to pen the script of the popular 1996 slasher film Scream.
Sondra London collaborated with Rolling on The Making of a Serial Killer: The True Story of the Gainesville Murders in the Killer's Own Words. He is the subject of the book Beyond Murder by John Philpin and John Donnelly. Author Kevin Given admitted that he based the serial killer David Reynolds from his novel Foul Blood on Rolling.
A 2007 independent feature film entitled The Gainesville Ripper was shot in the Gainesville and Jacksonville, Florida areas based on the accounts of the killings. In the film, Rolling is portrayed by Zachary Memos. Rolling was also the subject of an episode of Body of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman, a Court TV show (transmitted as Crime Scene USA: Body of Evidence on Discovery Channel in the UK) and an episode of Forensic Factor titled "Killing Spree", which originally aired on Discovery Channel Canada and was rebroadcast in America on the Science Channel. Rolling was also the subject of a 2010 episode of Cold Blood, and was briefly mentioned in a 2012 episode of Motives and Murders entitled "Not Again" and in a 2015 episode of Nightmare Next Door entitled "Daylight Abduction" where murder victim Sonja Larson's brother Jim Larson experienced the rape and murder of his wife Carla Larson on the Investigation Discovery channel. In 2013, TV documentary series The Real Story featured an episode on the movie Scream. It aired July 28, 2013 and tells the story of Rollings murders in graphic detail. The book Drifter is also based on the 1990 Gainesville murders.
An episode of Murder Made Me Famous, which aired November 24, 2018, chronicled the case.
The premiere episode of "Mark of a Killer", titled "Posed to Kill", which aired January 20, 2019, also documented the case.
While on death row at Florida State Prison, Rolling wrote songs and poems and drew pictures. His works have been referred to as an example of murderabilia.
— Source: Wikipedia
Lady of the Dunes (also known as Lady in the Dunes) is the nickname for an unidentified woman discovered on July 26, 1974 in the Race Point Dunes, Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her body was exhumed in 1980, 2000, and 2013 in efforts to identify her and her murderer; to date, these efforts have been unsuccessful. The case was featured on the television series Haunting Evidence in 2006.
A teenage girl found the woman's body July 26, 1974. The remains were just yards away from a road, and had a significant amount of insect activity. Two sets of footprints led to the body, and tire tracks were found 50 yards (46 m) from the scene. The woman may have died two weeks before her body was found. The victim was face-down on half of a beach blanket. There was no sign of a struggle; police theorized she either knew her killer or had been asleep when she died. A blue bandanna and pair of Wrangler jeans were under her head. She had long auburn or red hair, pulled back into a ponytail with a gold-flecked elastic band. Her toenails were painted pink.
Police determined the woman was approximately 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) tall (initially believed to have been 5'8"), weighed 145 pounds (66 kg), and had an athletic build. She also had dental work – including crowns – worth $5,000-$10,000; dentists call it the "New York style" of dental work. Several of her teeth had been removed. One hand and one forearm were missing. Most sources say she was between 25 and 40 years old. However, she could have been as young as 20 or as old as 49.
The woman was nearly decapitated, possibly from strangulation; one side of her head had been crushed with (possibly) a military-entrenching type of tool. This skull injury was officially what killed her. There were also signs of sexual assault, likely postmortem.
Some investigators feel the missing teeth, hands, and forearm indicate the killer wanted to hide either the victim's identity or their own.
The woman was buried in October 1974 after the case went cold. In 2014, one of the case investigators raised funds for a new casket, because the original thin metal casket was rusted and deteriorated.
Police pored through thousands of missing-person cases and a list of approved vehicles driven through the area; no matches were found. At the scene, the sand and beach blanket were not disturbed. No other evidence was found (besides the jeans, bandanna, blanket and ponytail holder) despite extensive searches of the surrounding dunes.
The first facial reconstruction of the woman was created with clay in 1979.[ Her remains were exhumed in 1980 for examination; no new clues were uncovered (although the skull was not buried at the time). The body was exhumed again in March 2000 for DNA. In May 2010, her skull was placed through a CT scanner that generated images that were then used by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for another reconstruction.
In 1987, a Canadian woman told a friend that she saw her father strangle a woman in Massachusetts around 1972. Police attempted to locate the woman but were unsuccessful. Another woman told police the reconstruction of the victim looked like her sister, who disappeared in Boston in 1974.
Investigators also followed a lead involving Rory Gene Kesinger, who would have been 25 years old at the time of the murder (she broke out of jail in 1973). Authorities saw a resemblance between Kesinger and the victim. However, DNA from Kesinger's mother did not match the victim.
Two other missing women, Francis Ewalt of Montana and Vicke Lamberton of Massachusetts have also been ruled out.
In August 2015, speculation arose that Lady of the Dunes may have been an extra in the 1975 film Jaws (filmed in Massachusetts in 1974). Joe Hill, the son of horror author Stephen King, brought this to police attention. Hill had learned of the case after reading The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths are Solving America's Coldest Cases just weeks before. Hill told an FBI investigator that during the film's "July 4th Crowd Arrives" sequence, he saw a woman resembling reconstructions of the victim. She is wearing a blue bandana and jeans, similar to those found with the body. Jaws was shot between May and October 1974. Principal photography was mainly in Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Provincetown.
Although a lead investigator has noted interest in this, others have described it as "far-fetched" and "wild speculation."
In 1981, investigators learned a woman who resembled the victim was seen with mobster Whitey Bulger around the time the woman presumably died. Bulger was known for removing his victims' teeth. A link to Bulger has not been proven. He died in prison in 2018.
Tony Costa, a serial killer in the area, was an initial suspect, but later eliminated. Costa died on May 12, 1974. The victim was found in July 1974.
Serial killer Hadden Clark confessed to the murder, stating "I could have told the police what her name was, but after they beat the shit out of me, I wasn't going to tell them shit. ... This murder is still unsolved and what the police are looking for is in my grandfather's garden." Authorities say Clark suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, a condition which may lead someone to confess falsely to crimes.
In 2004, Clark sent a letter to a friend stating that he had killed a woman on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He also sent two drawings: one of a handless, naked woman sprawled on her stomach, and another of a map pointing to where the body was found.
In April 2000, Clark led police to a spot where he claimed he had buried two victims 20 years before. He also stated that he had murdered several others in various states between the 1970s and the 1990s.
— Source: Wikipedia
Hanging out with Karen last night with cheese. We hung out, like normal people. We watched the new Golden State Killer Main Suspect documentary and I drank. Karen fucking booked it to Gelson’s and got a cheese and charcuterie spread that was just next level and just kept pulling stuff out of the bag. We kept talking and then I remembered a friend told me about Tara’s House, which is a soothing, drama-free Japanese version of The Real World.
The second season of Jessica Biels’ The Sinner. I couldn’t stop watching the first season, and Jessica Biel was so good in it and she was nominated for an Emmy (God Bless!) and now she’s the EP. Hooray for Bill Pullman — he’s had a 40 year career and he’s so great and so great to watch. It’s just so great. Also, the Tunnel, which is a British crime drama series.