• From Ted Bundy to Aileen Wournos: Florida serial killers who terrorized our towns

    By: Kelly Healey

    Updated:

    The definition of serial murder, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, is, “The unlawful homicide of at least two people carried out by the same person (or persons) in separate events occurring at different timed,” and it’s an alarming fact that Florida has had its fair share of them.

    The interest in serial killers is so big, that it has spawned movies, books and most recently, Netflix documentaries, a biopic and TV shows. But it's the victims' families who have to deal with the loss of their loved ones. 

    Just this weekend, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood announced that law enforcement officers have a suspected serial killer in custody 10 years after four women’s bodies were found in Daytona Beach and Holly Hill.

    Authorities said they arrested Robert Hayes, 37.

    Hayes is suspected of killing four women in Daytona Beach between 2005 and 2007.  

    Article: Arrest made in connection with Daytona Beach serial killer case

    The Daytona Beach Police Department held a news conference Monday about the arrest:


    Many serial murder cases go back to the 1970s, including Florida’s most infamous one, Ted Bundy.

    TED BUNDY: He is considered one of Florida’s most notorious serial killers. Bundy was tried in Miami in 1979. He was executed in Florida in 1989.

    Bundy had at least 30 women and girls' deaths linked to him in a multiple-state spree that spanned the late 1970s.

    On Jan. 15, 1978 in Tallahassee, Bundy left two Chi Omega sorority sisters dead and three other women injured. Less than a month later, on Feb. 9, he abducted, sexually assaulted and killed 12-year-old Kimberley Leach in Lake City. Bundy was tried in 1980 for Leach’s murder at the Orange County courthouse in Orlando.

    Forty years after his 1979 trial, and 30 years after his death in Florida's electric chair, Bundy's deadly charm continues to captivate and perplex.

    "I don't know what it is he has, but he's fascinating," a teenage spectator explained to Associated Press reporter Dan Sewell during Bundy’s murder trial. "He's impressive. He just has a kind of magnetism."

    A Utah State Prison psychologist who had interviewed Bundy told Sewell, years later, that He (Bundy) knew what he was doing. Charm was one of his weapons.

    Previous article by Dan Sewell: https://at.wftv.com/2lXJRzC


    Women are not excluded from the list of Florida’s serial killers.

    AILEEN WUORNOS: Wuornos killed at least seven men between 1989 and 1990, while posing as a hitchhiking prostitute. She killed the middle-aged male motorists and left their bodies along the highways of Florida and southern Georgia.

    Wuornos’ early life was reportedly violent and abusive, later leading to a vagabond lifestyle, which included prostitution.  

    While her supporters viewed her as a heroic figure who defended herself against male aggression, Wournos admitted that she had killed for profit and not in self-defense. (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

    Wournos was executed by lethal injection on Oct. 2002 in Starke.

    Photo gallery: Women on Death Row in Florida

    CHRISTINE FALLING: Not many people know about the horrendous acts committed by Christine Falling. Between February 1980 and July 1982 in Blounstown, she strangled and/or suffocated five children, including an 8-month-old baby.

    Her actions prompted the nicknames, "Babysitter from Hell" and the "Killer Babysitter."

    According to Joy Powell, an assistant state attorney in Perry, She (Falling) says she doesn't know why she did it. Sometimes they cried and they made her mad. One time she just felt the urge. (Source: Capitol News Service)

    Falling remains in prison, serving three life sentences.


    Some serial killers were executed in the mid-2000s, while earlier this year, two convicted serial killers were executed by lethal injection.

    DANNY ROLLING: He was known as the Gainesville Ripper. Rolling killed four University of Florida students and one Santa Fe College student over a four-day period in August 1990.

    Police discovered the bodies of the five students at the southwest edge of the UF campus, sending the community into a state of panic.

    Rolling was arrested months later and pleaded guilty in 1994.  

    He was executed by lethal injection in 2006.

    DAVID ALAN GORE: He abducted and killed at least six young women and teenage girls in Indian River County in the early 1980s.

    After his arrest, Gore led authorities to the other bodies and admitted to killing three other girls and two women.

    Gore's cousin and accomplice Fred Waterfield is serving two consecutive life sentences for his role in the murders.

    He offered an apology to one of the victim’s family. According to the Gainesville Sun, victim Lynn Elliot’s father, Carl Elliot, said the apology for his daughter's rape and murder meant nothing.

    The mother of another of Gore's victims said she wasn't concerned that she didn't receive the same apology as the Elliotts, saying, “I want nothing from that man except to have him gone.”

    Gore was executed in April 2012.

    BOBBY JOE LONG: He was executed in May. Long confessed to 10 murders in Florida during the 1980s. The victims were between the ages of 18 and 28.

    Previous article: https://at.wftv.com/2mkvKVD

    One woman, Lisa Noland, survived: More on her story: https://at.wftv.com/2lXjk5v

    GARY RAY BOWLES: He was executed in August. Bowles targeted gay men, killing six.

    He began his eight-month killing spree on March 14, 1994, in Florida and then Georgia, earning the nickname, "I-95 Killer." 

    Previous article: https://at.wftv.com/30pU8UB

    In 2015, Radford University, the Florida Gulf Coast University and 24/7 Wall St. produced a Serial Killer Database, which ranked Florida at number 3. Go to article: http://bit.ly/2ml4iXP

    While we've only listed a few serial killers, Florida's ranking is a scary thought. But with advances in DNA technology, combined with law enforcement officers' continued investigations, there is some hope that those types of heinous crimes will diminish.  



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