Serial Killings Florida

This Sept. 16, 2019 photo made available by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office shows Robert Hayes under arrest. Hayes has been charged in the death of a woman, but authorities say he is a suspect in the deaths of three other women in the state. (Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office via AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Three women shot in the head, each dumped a month a part — the 2006 killings scared Daytona Beach’s street people so badly that they memorized suspicious men’s license plate numbers and gave them to police. And then suddenly the slayings stopped.

Ten years later, a prostitute’s body was dumped along a road, 180 miles south in West Palm Beach. DNA and ballistics showed that Rachel Bey’s strangulation and the gun deaths of Laquetta Gunther, Julie Green and Iwana Patton were done by one man, but detectives couldn’t identify the killer — until last week, they said Monday.

Palm Beach County sheriff’s investigators charged Robert Hayes, 37, with murder for Bey’s death and Daytona Beach detectives said he is the prime suspect in their investigation, though he has not been charged there. Detectives also want to know what Hayes was doing between 2006 and 2016 and whether the former college criminal justice major may be responsible for more slayings.

“We believe we took a serial killer off the streets. We’re going to be looking for additional victims,” Palm Beach sheriff’s Capt. Michael Wallace told a news conference Monday, shortly after a judge ordered Hayes held without bond.

Hayes, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds, was arrested Sunday without incident at his apartment just off the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach. Neighbors said Hayes is a chef and lived with a woman and their daughter, who is about 2. They didn’t know if Hayes and the woman were married. They said Hayes seemed like a normal person who waved and chatted. They were stunned that investigators say he is a serial killer.

The first Daytona Beach body was discovered the day after Christmas 2005: Laquetta Gunther, 45, was found in a gap between an auto parts store and a mostly empty utility building. Julie Green, 34, was found Jan. 14, 2006, on a dirt road at a construction site. The body of 35-year-old Iwana Patton was found Feb. 24 on a dirt road. All were nude, lying face down. A fourth killing might be linked, detectives said.

Police said at the time that the killer appeared to be preying on prostitutes.

At the time, Hayes was a student at the city’s Bethune-Cookman University. He graduated in 2006 with a degree in criminal justice, the school said Monday. State records show that Hayes also had a security guard license at the time. Detectives said Hayes was questioned then as a possible suspect in the Daytona Beach killings based on a gun purchase similar to one used by the killer, but he wasn’t arrested.

Then the linked killings stopped until March 7, 2016. Investigators said in court records that Bey, who had a prostitution record, was seen by a friend walking along Dixie Highway at 2 a.m., not far from where Hayes lived. A road crew found her nude body six hours later, dumped about 5 miles from where she had last been seen. She had been strangled elsewhere and her jaw and teeth broken, court records show.

DNA linked her death to the Daytona Beach killings.

Investigators put Hayes under surveillance and said a cigarette butt collected surreptitiously last week after he caught a bus linked him to the killings and a sample taken after his arrest confirmed it. They said the odds are 700-billion-to-1 that the killer is someone other than Hayes. That is 100 times the world’s population.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.