August 28

This Day in History

Crime

Aug 28, 1990:

Murdered students are discovered at the University of Florida

The bodies of Tracy Paules and Manuel Taboada are discovered at the Gatorwood Apartments, near the campus of the University of Florida. Their murders came two days after the discovery that three young female students had been killed and mutilated in two separate locations near the campus. The serial killer was known for positioning his victims' bodies in a lewd manner before he left. Authorities determined that all five murders were connected, and the Gainesville student community panicked.

While the first murders spawned a massive investigation including 75 state and federal agents, Florida's governor sent an additional 50 state troopers and investigators to assist after the bodies of Paules and Taboada were found.

University of Florida officials offered all students temporary on-campus housing to those afraid for their safety. Nearby Santa Fe Community College allowed its students to return home for two weeks with no adverse affect on their grades. In the wake of the crimes, people flooded the sheriff's office to obtain concealed weapons permit applications, while stores ran out of mace.

The desperation to calm the community led police to arrest Ed Humphrey as a suspect, and students began to return to campus. However, with no real evidence against him, authorities continued their search, while keeping Humphrey in jail with a conviction on an unrelated charge.

The case was finally cracked when investigators found an abandoned campsite on the campus with a cassette recorded by the killer, admitting to the murders. Surrounding evidence eventually led police to Danny Rolling, who had been arrested in Ocala for armed robbery.

Apparently, Rolling had also killed a family in Shreveport, Louisiana, the previous November. He then shot his own father in the face before moving on to Florida. Rolling was convicted of the murders in April 1994, and sentenced to die in the electric chair. Ed Humphrey was released from prison, and his family bitterly denounced the police for their investigation and erroneous conclusions. Rolling was executed in October 2006.

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