Police: Man charged with murder in Palm Beach linked to Daytona Beach serial killer case

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A man accused of killing a woman in Palm Beach County in 2016 has been linked to three brutal killings in Daytona Beach a decade prior, according to Daytona Beach police.

Robert Hayes, 37, was arrested Sunday by Palm Beach County deputies on first-degree murder charges for the March 2016 death of Rachel Bey, 32.

Deputies said her body was found 50 feet off a roadway.

Daytona Beach police said DNA from the case linked Hayes to three out of four killings previously thought to be victims of the same serial killer between 2005 and 2007.

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The four women's bodies were found a mile or two apart from one other in Daytona Beach and Holly Hill.

Each woman had been shot in the head with the same type of gun, a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson, and the bodies had been left in remote, wooded areas, officials said.

Daytona Beach police Chief Craig Capri said Hayes has been named a suspect in the deaths of Julie Green, Laquetta Gunther and Iwana Patton.

“It was a team effort to get closure for these families and get this killer off the streets,” he said.

Capri said no DNA was able to be pulled from the fourth victim, Stacy Gage, so the investigation into whether Hayes can be linked to that case is ongoing.

Capri said Hayes has not yet been charged for the three deaths in Daytona Beach as investigators continue to build their case against him.

Meanwhile, he is being held on a murder charge related to the 2016 case in Palm Beach County.

An arrest affidavit said investigators used DNA from a cigarette smoked by Hayes to link him to the DNA found on the victims.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who served as Daytona Beach's police chief when one of the four homicides happened, said he spoke with one of the victims' family members after news came in that a suspect had been found.

“They are absolutely ecstatic. They didn't think they'd be alive to see this day come,” Chitwood said.

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Capri said Hayes was a student a Bethune-Cookman University when the killings happened. Information on when he moved to Palm Beach has not been released.

Investigators said Hayes was one of hundreds of people interviewed when the killing occurred because he had purchased a similar gun in the area.

Capri said there was no physical or forensic evidence to link him to the crime at the time.

After the 2016 killing, Capri said investigators were able to identify Hayes as the suspect and link him to the Daytona Beach killings by using genetic genealogy.

Capri said Hayes has no criminal history other than traffic infractions.

This is a developing story. Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News for live updates.

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