On August 28, 1990, the last 2 victims of serial killer Danny Rolling were discovered in Gainesville, Florida. He murdered five students in a four day span. One was a student at Santa Fe College and four attended the University of Florida. The murders received much media attention, and the unknown killer at the time was referred to as the Gainesville Ripper.
The first attack occurred early on August 24, 1990. Rolling broke into an apartment shared by Sonja Larson and Christina Powell. He found Powell asleep on a downstairs couch where he stood over her shortly but did not wake her up. Rolling then went upstairs and discovered Larsen sleeping in her bedroom. He then went back downstairs and taped Powell’s mouth shut and stabbed her to death as she tried to fight for her life. Rolling then went upstairs and taped Larson’s mouth shut and her wrists together behind her back. He then cut her clothes off and raped her, then forced her face down on the floor and stabbed her five times in the back. Rolling posed the bodies before leaving.
On August 25, 1990, a day later, Rolling broke into the apartment of Christa Hoyt. Hoyt was not home at the time, so he waited in the living room for her to return. At 11 a.m. Hoyt entered her apartment and was attacked from behind and was placed in a choke hold. After Rolling subdued Hoyt he taped her mouth shut and her wrists together and took her into the bedroom where he raped her. He then forced Hoyt to lay face down on the floor and stabbed her in the back. Rolling then decapitated the corpse and posed the head facing the corpse, to add to the shock value of whoever discovered her.
On August 27, 1990 Rolling broke into the apartment of Manny Taboada and Tracy Paules. Rolling encountered Tabouda, a burly 200 lb man, in his bedroom as he awoke, and after a struggle, Rolling eventually killed him.
Upon hearing the commotion Paules went down the hall to Taboada’s bedroom and encountered Rolling, Paules ran an attempted to barricade herself in her bedroom but Rolling broke down the door. He taped her mouth and wrists, cut off her clothing and raped her before rolling her on her stomach and stabbing her three times in the back. Paules’ body was posed but Tabouda’s was left as it was.
All of the victim’s, except Taboada, were petite Caucasian brunettes with brown eyes.Rolling was arrested on a burglary charge in Ocala, Florida. During that investigation his tools were matched to marks left at the Gainesville murder scenes. He was living in a small one man camp in a wooded area near the apartment complexes of those of the victim’s. Investigator’s found recordings of Rolling singing songs alluding to the crimes. He was charged with several counts of murder in November 1990.
It took four years to bring Rolling to trial, and in 1994 just before it began, Rolling pled guilty to all charges. Rolling said his motive was to become a “superstar” like Ted Bundy. Rolling was sentenced to the death penalty on each count.
After Rolling was arrested, police in Louisiana contacted Florida authorities about an unsolved triple murder in Shreveport, Louisiana that occurred on November4, 1989. 55-year-old William Grissom, his 24-year-old daughter Julie and eight-year-old grandson Sean had been attacked in their home while preparing for dinner. Julie Grissom’s body had been mutilated and posed.
Daniel Harold Rolling was executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison on October 25, 2006, after a last ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied. In a written statement shortly before his execution, Rolling confessed to the murders of the Grissom family in Shreveport.