Dark Dreams
The Story of Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper

Devan Sagliani | 5 Feb 2016 15:00
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A lengthy investigation ensued, with 6,500 leads and over 1,500 pieces of evidence. Initially, however, the police had very few credible leads to go on. They focused on a suspect named Edward Humphrey who was brought in due to having been evicted from the apartment complex where Miss Paules and Mr. Taboada lived as well as his history of erratic behavior. By all accounts Edward looked the part of the villain, his face having been horrifically scarred during a car accident where he'd attempted to run from a moving car. The media widely and repeatedly showed Edward's terrifying visage. To make matters worse the murders instantly ended after Edwards was taken into custody. Despite a lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime scene police were certain that they had their man. They didn't. It was later determined that Edward was mentally ill and he, along with another suspect who did not receive the same amount of media attention, were completely exonerated of all implications of being involved in the murders.

Around the same time Rolling, who'd been camping out in the woods with souvenirs from his murders and financing his killing spree with a string of brazen robberies, was captured near the very apartment complexes he'd been breaking into. Detectives didn't know it at first but later discovered that the tape recorder Danny had been found with had several confessions and explanations for his grisly crimes. He also had blood from his victims, the roll of tape he'd used to bind and gag them with, and the screwdriver he'd used to pry open the door and windows of his victim's residences.

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With an overwhelming amount of evidence against him Danny was charged with several counts of murder in November 1990. In 1994, just prior to the start of his trial, Rolling pled guilty to all charges telling the judge, "there are some things that you just can't run from." He bragged that his motive for the killings was to become a superstar like Ted Bundy, who murdered coeds at the Chi Omega sorority at Florida State University. If he expected to receive any leniency for the admission of his terrible crimes, he was sorely disappointed. Instead he was sentenced to the death penalty on each and every count of murder he committed. Police were also able to tie Danny to an unsolved triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana that occurred on November 4, 1989. William Grissom, along with his daughter Julie and his 8-year-old grandson Sean had been brutally attacked in their home around dinner time. Just as in the previous cases Danny had mutilated and posed Julie Grissom's body in a sexually provocative manner, his calling card.

On October 25, 2006, shortly after he'd exhausted his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the serial killer slash rapist Daniel Rolling was executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison. In a written statement given to detectives prior to his execution, Rolling confessed to the murders of the Grissom family in Shreveport. Up until his final moments Rolling showed no remorse whatsoever for his actions and refused to make any verbal statements or even offer an apology for his crimes to the relatives of his victims, many of whom showed up to witness his death. Danny refused to make eye contact during his execution humming gently to himself as he was strapped in and the lethal drugs were administered. Across the road from the prison, dozens of onlookers gathered into groups waiting for word that he had passed. It was the largest turnout for an execution in Florida since Ted Bundy. At 6:13 p.m. he was officially pronounced dead.

Danny Rolling was a real life monster but Scream wasn't the only work of horror his terrible legacy inspired. In fact, author Kevin Given has admitted that he based the serial killer David Reynolds from his novel "Foul Blood" on Rolling. Danny was also the subject of several written works including The Making of a Serial Killer: The True Story of the Gainesville Murders In the Killer's Own Words, Beyond Murder by John Philpin and John Donnelly, and The Gainesville Ripper, a 2007 independent feature film shot in the Gainesville and Jacksonville areas. While on death row at Florida State Prison, Rolling wrote songs and poems and drew pictures up until the day of his execution. Rolling's final feast was a lobster tail, butterfly shrimp, a baked potato, strawberry cheesecake and sweet tea. "He enjoyed his last meal," a prison official reported, "He ate every bite."

For more on the savage crimes Danny Rolling committed check out Serial Killers - Danny Rolling The Gainesville Ripper on Youtube.

Until next time, stay scared!

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