On this day (October 25, 2006), Danny Rolling the Gainesville Ripper serial killer was executed by lethal injection in Florida State Prison. I got the information from Wikipedia and clarkprosecutor.org.
Daniel 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. Rolling later confessed to raping several of his victims, committing an additional 1989 triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana, and attempting to murder his father in May 1990. In total, Rolling confessed to killing eight people. He was executed by lethal injection in 2006.
Rolling was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He had a difficult upbringing. His father, James Rolling, was a Shreveport Police officer who abused him, his mother, Claudia, and later his brother, Kevin. In one incident, Danny's mother went to the hospital after she claimed that her husband, James Rolling, tried to make her cut herself with a razor blade. His mother made repeated attempts to leave her husband but always returned. In another example of James Rolling's cruel sense of discipline, he pinned Danny to the ground and cuffed him, then had police come to take him away like a criminal because his father was embarrassed by Danny. The idea that Danny was an unwanted child was reinforced ever since birth by his father.
As a teenager and young adult, he was arrested several times for robberies in Georgia, and caught spying on a cheerleader dressing. As an adult, Rolling had trouble trying to assimilate into society and hold down a steady job. At one point, he worked as a waiter at Pancho's restaurant in Shreveport, Louisiana. In May 1990, he tried to kill his father during a family argument in which his father lost an eye and an ear.
In August 1990, Rolling murdered five students (one was a student of Santa Fe College and four attended the University of Florida) during a burglary and robbery spree in Gainesville, Florida. He would mutilate his victim's bodies, decapitating one. He then would pose them, sometimes even using mirrors, to intensify the carnage in the rooms.
The first attack occurred early August 24, 1990, when Rolling broke into the apartment shared by Sonya 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 sleeping. Deciding that he would rape Larson, he went back downstairs to murder Powell, first taping her mouth shut to stifle her screams as he stabbed her to death. She died while trying to fend him off. Rolling then went upstairs, taped Larson's mouth shut and 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 deliberately posed the bodies and left the apartment.
A day later, on Saturday August 25, 1990, Rolling broke into the apartment where Christa Hoyt lived by prying open a sliding glass door with a KA-BAR knife and a screwdriver, but she wasn't home. He waited in the living room for her to return. At 11 a.m. she entered the apartment where Rolling surprised her from behind, placing her in a choke-hold. After she had been subdued, he taped her mouth shut and her wrists together and led her into the bedroom, where he cut the clothes from her body and raped her. As in the Larson murder, he forced her face-down and stabbed her in the back, rupturing her heart. He then decapitated the body and posed the head facing the corpse, adding to the shock value 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. Tracy Paules had invited her boyfriend, Manny Taboada, to sleep at her apartment as a form of protection against attack. On August 27, Rolling broke into the apartment by prying open the sliding glass door with the same tools he had used earlier. 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 onto her belly and stabbing her three times in the back. Rolling posed Paules' body but left Taboada's in the same position in which Taboada had died.
With the exception of Taboada, all of the victims were petite Caucasian brunettes with brown eyes.
Although law enforcement authorities 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 video snip when discussing news about the investigation. His image was played multiple times by media outlets.
Rolling was arrested in Ocala on a burglary charge and, in the course of that investigation, the 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 him singing folk songs he had composed and audio diaries alluding to the crimes. He was then charged with several counts of murder in November 1991.
The two men the police had identified as suspects were released with no further suspicion of participating in the crimes.
Rolling eventually was brought to trial by Alachua County State Attorney Len Register nearly four years after the murders. His motive, according to Rolling, was to become a "superstar" in much the same way as Ted Bundy. Before testimony began in his trial in 1994, Rolling pled guilty to all charges. Subsequently, State Attorney Rod Smith presented the penalty phase of the prosecution. Rolling was sentenced to the death penalty on each count. During his trial, Court TV conducted an interview with his mother from her home. During the recording, his father could be heard shouting off-camera.
After Rolling was arrested, police in Louisiana alerted the authorities in Florida to an unsolved triple murder in Shreveport, Louisiana 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 eight-year-old grandson Sean. The family had been attacked in their home as they were preparing for dinner. Later Julie Grissom's body had been mutilated, cleaned and posed.
Although Rolling never officially confessed to investigators handling the Grissom case, he did write about the murders using information that only the killer would know. Shreveport police obtained an open arrest warrant in 1994 but Rolling was never extradited to Louisiana to stand trial for the killings.
Death penalty supporters outside the prison in Starke, Fla., where Danny Rolling was executed Wednesday
Summary of the case:
In the early morning hours of August 24, 1990, Danny Rolling, armed with both an automatic pistol and a Marine Corps K-Bar knife, broke through the rear door of an apartment shared by college students Sonya Larson and Christina Powell. Upon entering the apartment, Rolling observed Christina Powell asleep on the downstairs couch. He stood over her briefly, but did not awaken her. Rolling then crept upstairs where he found Sonya Larson asleep in her bedroom.
After pausing to decide with which young woman he desired to have sexual relations, he attacked Sonya as she lay in her bed, stabbing her first in the upper chest area. He then placed a double strip of duct tape over her mouth to muffle her cries and continued to stab her as she unsuccessfully attempted to fend off his blows. During the attack, she was stabbed on her arms and received a slashing blow to her left thigh. Sonya maintained consciousness for less than a minute and died as a direct result of the stab wounds inflicted by Rolling.
After killing Sonya, Rolling returned to the downstairs of the apartment where Christina remained asleep. He pressed a double strip of tape over her mouth and taped her hands behind her back. Rolling cut off her clothing and undergarments with the K-Bar knife and sexually battered Christina, threatening her with the knife. Thereafter, Rolling forced her to lie facedown on the floor near the couch and stabbed her five times in the back, causing her death. Rolling posed the bodies of the victims and left the apartment. Sonya's body was found on her bed, posed with her arms above her head. Their bodies were mutilated.
Approximately forty-two hours later, during the evening hours of Saturday, August 25, Rolling broke into the apartment of college student Christa Hoyt, located about two miles away from the first crime scene, by prying open the sliding glass door with a screwdriver. Armed with the same automatic pistol and K-Bar knife, Rolling waited in the living room for the arrival of Christa a young woman into whose bedroom he had peeked a few days earlier. When Christa eventually returned home at about 11 a.m., Rolling surprised her from behind, placing her in a choke-hold and subduing her after a brief struggle. He taped her mouth and her hands and then led her into her bedroom where, after cutting and tearing off her clothing and undergarments, he forced her onto her bed, threatened her with his knife, and sexually battered her. Rolling subsequently turned Christa facedown in her bed and stabbed her through the back, rupturing her aorta and killing her. Just as he had done with his first two victims, Rolling posed the body of his third victim and left the apartment. Christa's lifeless head was found sitting on a bookshelf in the bedroom, and her body was propped, sitting up on her bed and bent over at the waist. Rolling had sliced off her nipples and left them on the bed next to her, and police discovered that her torso was sliced open, from her chest to her pubic bone.
A little over a day later, at approximately 3 a.m. on August 27, Rolling entered a third apartment, occupied by roommates and college students Tracy Paules and Manuel Taboada. Again, Rolling broke into the apartment by prying open the double-glass sliding door with the same screwdriver he used to enter Christa's apartment. Armed with the same pistol and knife, Rolling crept into one of the bedrooms where he found Manny Taboada asleep. Rolling attacked Manny, stabbing him in the solar plexus and penetrating his thoracic vertebra. Manny was awakened by the blow and struggled to fight off his assailant. Rolling repeatedly stabbed him on the arms, hands, chest, legs and face and eventually killed him. Hearing the commotion caused by the struggle, Tracy Paules approached Manny's bedroom and, catching a glimpse of Rolling, fled to her room where she attempted to lock her door. Rolling, who was covered with Manny's blood, followed Tracy and broke through her bedroom door. Rolling subdued her, taped her mouth and her hands, and cut or tore off her t-shirt. He sexually battered her and threatened her with his knife before turning her over on the bed and killing her with three stabbing blows to her back. Finally, Rolling cleaned and posed the body of Tracy Paules and left the apartment.
A friend of Manny's had gone to the apartment to check on them after another mutual friend expressed concerns about not being able to reach Manny for a couple of days. The maintenance man from the apartment complex was called and opened the door with a master key. They immediately saw Tracy's naked and bloody body in the hallway and there was a dark bag on the floor near her. The maintenance man slammed the door shut and locked it, then left and called police. They arrived within five minutes, and when they reopened the apartment, the door was unlocked and the bag was gone. Tracy's body had been placed on a towel and police surmised that Rolling was interrupted before he could mutilate her body.
Rolling had a series of prior violent felonies; to-wit: a 1976 Mississippi conviction for armed robbery; a 1979 Georgia conviction for two counts of armed robbery; a 1980 Alabama conviction for robbery; a 1991 Hillsborough County, Florida, conviction for three counts of attempted robbery with a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and a 1992 federal conviction for armed bank robbery. Rolling was arrested after robbing a grocery store and police from his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana had contacted the Gainesville police task force and described similarities between the murders in Florida and a triple homicide in Louisiana in November 1991.
In November 1989, Tom Grissom, his daughter Julie, and her 8-year-old son Sean were stabbed to death. Julie's body was found bound and mutilated, covered with bite marks and posed on her bed in a sexual depiction. In both states, the killer had used solvents to clean the victims' bodies in an attempt to eliminate DNA clues; duct tape was used to bind victims; the knife used in both cases was the same type and in both cases, victims' were left displayed in grotesque poses, for maximum shock effect. DNA matched Rolling to three of the crime scenes and items found at a campsite in the woods where Rolling had been living were stained with Manny Taboada's blood. Eventually, Rolling confessed to the Gainesville murders and pled guilty at trial. He also confessed to murdering the Grissom family.
Death penalty supporters cheer outside the Florida State Prison moments after the execution.
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 showed no remorse and refused to make any verbal statements or offer any apology to the relatives of his victims, several of whom were present at his execution as witnesses. In a written statement made shortly before his execution, Rolling confessed the murders of the Grissom family in Shreveport.
Memorial to the five students on the 34th Street Wall in Gainesville, first painted in 1990.
Rolling has been the subject of several writers and their works. His killing spree inspired Kevin Williamson to pen the script for Scream. Sondra London met him in prison while she was working with Gerard John Schaefer and other serial killers. He is the subject of the book Beyond Murder by John Philpin and John Donnelly. 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. And in 2010 a show on Investigation Discovery channel, called Cold Blood episode "Gainesville Ripper" was broadcast. While on death row at Florida State Prison, Rolling created songs, poems, and drawings. His works have been referred to as "Murderabilia".
Please see Quote Number 40 in this post.