Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper

Task Force Formed

It was soon clear that the three murders were definitely linked.  At both scenes, underwear were missing.  A knife with a four-to-six inch blade had been used on all three girls, and the use of adhesive tape for restraint was evident, although it had been removed.  At both scenes there were body parts missing.

As Sheriff Lu Hindery walked towards his car the crowd of reporters, which had gathered while he was inside Christa's apartment, met him.  In answer to their barrage of questions, he told them some of the gruesome details, before getting into his car to drive back to the station.  By the afternoon, the information available to the press was being strictly controlled.  Already much of the most vital information was well known, and where facts were missing, fear and fertile imaginations had filled in the gaps.

The early stories in the local Gainesville Sun were gruesome even without embellishment.  Newspapers were being sold as quickly as the shelves could be filled.  Even without the headlines, the news was sweeping through the college community.  The students, who could all identify with the victims, felt vulnerable.  The viciousness of the crimes and the idea of a knife-wielding killer lurking in their midst only added to their fear.  Christa's murder meant that the killer may not have known his victims and they were chosen opportunistically. They didn't even attend the same school.  Christina and Sonja were freshmen at the University of Florida, while Christa was a sophomore at Santa Fe Community College.  Anyone could be next.

First thing that Monday morning, Sheriff Lu Hindery, of Alachua County Sheriff's Office, and Wayland Clifton, of Gainesville Police Department, conferred and set the wheels in motion to create a combined task force.  It was to include top crime-scene technicians and investigators from both departments, along with representatives from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol, and ten of the top criminal behavioral specialists from the FBI.  The task force was to be headed by three men: Lieutenant R.B. Ward was appointed by the GPD; Captain Andy Hamilton represented the ACSO; and Special Agent J.O. Jackson represented the FDLE.


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