Daniel Harold Rolling
The small college town of Gainsville, Florida was selected as
the thirteenth safest place to live in the United States by Money Magazine in
August of 1990. A week after the printing of the article on the beautiful, quiet
residence, the newspapers, both locally and nationally had renamed the town as
"Grisly Gainsville." The name was well justified thanks to a series of
unspeakable slayings of five young college students by an unknown madman. The
murders had occurred in one single weekend from August 23rd to August 26th.
At four p.m., on Sunday, August 26, 1990, Officer Ray Barber of the Gainsville Police Department responded to a routine complaint from the maintenance man of Williamsburg Village Apartments. The man needed assistance in opening the door to one of the recently moved-in tenants. The maintenance man explained that several nervous parents were desperate to contactt their children but were unable to establish any communication for the past few days. They feared something may be wrong. They were right.
The door to the apartment of University of Florida freshmen Christina Powell, 17, and Sonja Larson, also 17, was locked and no one answered when the veteran police officer knocked loudly several times. Barber attempted to open the door with a master key. After this effort failed, Barber broke one of the glass panes, and unlocked the door by reaching in. Once he had opened the door though, he wished that he had never responded to the call. Inside, Barber and the maintence man discovered the mutilated bodies of Powell and Larson. Both women were naked and positioned deliberately for maximum shock effect. It worked. Both men left the gruesome site in a state of horror. The parents of the girls were soon notified of the tragedy. The double-homicide immediately became the front-page news all over the state of Florida. However, little did anyone know that there were three more dead college students that had been viciously murdered by the hand of the same maniac.
At 12:30 a.m. on Monday, August 27th, Gail Barber, the wife of Ray Barber and also a veteran police officer, discovered a third mutilated female corpse. With her was deputy Keith O'Hara. Both were Alachua County police officer. The body they found was that of Christa Hoyt, and 18 year-old student at Santa Fe Community College and filing clerk for the Alachua County Police Department. She had not shown up for work that day and many were worried, among them Barber and O'Hara. The most appalling detail of her murder, was the fact that the killer and removed the victim's head and propped it up on a bookshelf in her bedroom. Once again, the purpose was believed to be for maximum shock effect. There were three murders now, all believed to the work of the same psychopath.
News of the murders spread all over the campus and hysteria soon swept over the town of Gainsville. There was a serial killer on the loose and students were frightened to be alone, even in broad daylight. The school year was getting off to a terrifying start and many students began traveling in groups of at least six. Many didn't even bother to go to class. Worried parents phoned their children as much as they could to make sure that their loved ones were alive and well. The horror though was far from over.
On Tuesday, August 28th, shortly after sunrise, police were notified of the fact
that no one was answering the door to an apartment in Gatorwood Apartments that
belonged to students Tracy Paules,23, and Manny Taboada,23, both seniors and in
their final year of college. Male students, because of Manny Taboada's murder,
no longer felt safe. Prior to this ghastly finding, only females were believed
to be the targets of the "Gainesville Ripper," as the killer(s) was now being
called due to the similarities to the Jack the Ripper murders over hundred years
before. Like Saucy Jack, the killer had obviously been scared off since there
were no signs of mutilation on the bodies of Paules and Taboala. The body count
had now reached five. Fortunately it would end at five, even though the
authorities and members of the community were not aware of this fact at the
The investigation into the murders was going nowhere until the police were able to focus on a man named Edward Lewis Humphrey, a young man known throughout Gainsville as possessing a bad temper and equally vicious behavior. Little did the police know that they were investigating the wrong man. The real culprit, Daniel Rolling, was still on the loose. Unfortunately he would not be a suspect for some time as the police were almost certain that Humphrey was their man.
Daniel Harold Rolling was born in 1954 in Shrevport. Throughout his childhood, he suffered a tremendous amount of physical and emotional abuse by his policeman father. Eventually, Daniel decided he did not want to take any more abuse from his father and fired several rounds into the old man from a handgun. Rolling's survived though and Daniel was soon wanted for attempted murder. Daniel's mother had never bothered to interfer with her husband during all of the years that her son endured numerous amounts of inhumane punishments. Daniel would later say in an televised interview that his he was often afraid that if he held his fork the wrong way at the dinner table that he would be subjected to a beating by his sadistic dad.
Danny Rollings Jailhouse Girlfriends
The capture of Danny Rolling did not come easy. He eluded the police on drug and
back robbery charges several times before finally being apprehended after a high
speed chase that was the result of a botched robbery of a convenient store. He
was arrested for attempted armed robbery and resisting arrest. The "Gainsville
Ripper" had been caught, although he was not suspected for having anything to do
with the murders. In fact, the police viewed Rolling as nothing more than a
common crook and thought him to be only a mild threat. Their first impressions
of Rolling were anything but accurate.
A tape that revealed a confession by Danny Rolling surfaced after the police searched his campsite in Gainsville, where he spent most of his time planning robberies and doing drugs. The tape was the most damning evidence against Rolling and he soon confessed through a fellow inmate named Bobby Lewis of his identity as the "Gainsville Ripper." All of the evidence that the police had collected also connected Rolling to the murders. Edward Humphrey was eventually dropped as a suspect despite the all of the pain and anguish his family haf suffered ( including the death of his grandmother, who died from the pure stress of being hounded by the police and media). The police never did offer an apology to the Humphrey family.
At his 1994 trial, Danny Rolling entered a guilty plea and openly admitted the facts of his crimes. He insisted however, that his crimes were actually committed by his alter ego named Gemini. The defense argued that their client's acts could not be controlled because of the years of abuse that he suffered at the hands of his monstrous father. The jury and the prosecution felt differently. They believed Rolling knew what he was doing when he slaughtered five innocent college students and the crimes were all premeditated and carried out for sexual pleasure. Rolling was found guilty on five counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death. He is currently on death row, but will most likely not be executed for years due to a number of appeals.