Daniel Harold Rolling was born May 26, 1954, to Claudia Beatrice and James Harold Rolling. They lived in a modest home in Shrevport, Louisiana. Immediately after the birth of Daniel Claudia began to notice James was not excepting the child and that he was jealous of Danny. The abuse had begun, when James started not allowing Claudia to by the baby's side while he layed on the floor crying. At the age of six months, Danny was dragged through the house by his leg because his father didn't like the way it "crippled up" underneath him when he walked around. Even after Claudia had given birth to a second child the abuse continued. Throughout their childhood they were struck and tied up by their father.
All the abuse Danny had been through in his childhood had shown out in his later years. It had all started in grade three when he begun to get in trouble at school.
Throughout his live he had attempted to kill himself on several different accounts. At the age of thirteen Danny had spent two weeks in jail for drug and alcohol abuse, he was arrested later in his live for voyeurism during his three year marriage. Danny was also dismissed from the air force for alcohol and drug abuse, he spent eight years in prison for various robbery charges, he tried to escape twice but was re-caught and during an argument with his father he shot him seven times point blank with a hand gun.
All of these events lead to the tragic weekend in the small town of Gainsville, Florida. Gainsville was selected as the safest place to live in the United States in August 1990. Only one weekend after being the safest town in America it was renamed as "Grisly Gainsville". This name had come after being the brutal slaying of five college students. All of the murders took place between August 23rd and August 26th.
At around 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 26th 1990, officer Ray Barber of the Gainsville Police Department responded to a call from an apartment maintenance man. The man needed assistance in opening an apartment belonging to a tenant in the building. The man told the officer that several parents had called and were desperate to contact their children.
The door in which the man and officer Barber were at was that of Christina Powell, 17, and Sonya Larson, 17. They were freshman at the University of Florida. The door was locked and there was no answer when Barber knocked several times. After failing to open it with the master key, they broke a small pane of glass. What they found was the bodies of the two young girls. Both girls were mutilated, naked, and deliberately positioned on the floor for maximum effect. Both men had left the scene in a state of horror. Shortly after the two murders there were headlines in papers all over the state of Florida. But what no one had known was that there were still three more bodies to be killed.
At about 12:30 a.m. on Monday, August 27th, Gail Barber, the wife of Ray Barber and a veteran police officer, had found the third body. With her was Deputy Keith O'Hara. Both had found the body of Christa Hoyt, an 18 year old student at Santa Fe Community College and filing clerk at Alachua County Police Department.
Christa had failed to show up for work that day and many had become worried. What was found was a scenario also set up for maximum shock affect as the victim's head was cut off and propped up on a book shelf. Her body was rested against her bed.
Throughout the town of Gainsville, many students were afraid to go to class or to go anywhere alone. People had begun to travel in groups of six or more to be safe. Many parents had begun to call their children whenever they had the chance to ensure they were safe.
On Tuesday, August 28, shortly after sunrise, the police were notified that no one was answering the door of an apartment that was believed to belong to the student Tracy Paules, 23, and Manny Taboada, 23. They were both in their final year of college.
After the murder of Manny, males had no longer felt safe. Before the discovery of the male victim, only women were believed to be the victims of the "Gainsville Ripper". He was known as this name because of the similarities of the victims of Jack the Ripper over a hundred years ago. They felt that the killer must have been scared off because there were no signs of mutilation on the bodies of Paules and Taboada. Now the body count is at five and this is where it ended.
The investigation was getting nowhere until they focused on a man named Edward Lewis Humphrey, a young man known throughout Gainsville for possessing a bad temper and an equally vicious behavior. Little did the police know that Humphrey was not their man. The right man, Daniel Rolling was still on the loose. He would not become a suspect until some time later. The police were almost certain that Humphrey was their man.
The capture of Danny Rolling was one which came down to a high speed chase. Danny was wanted for drug and bank robbery charges. The high speed chase had started after a botched robbery of a convenience store. He was arrested for attempted armed robbery and resisting arrest. Although the Ripper had been caught, no one had suspected Rolling of anything related to the Gainsville murders.
During a search of Danny's campsite, a tape was found revealing the Ripper's confession. The tape was the most powerful, yet only, piece of evidence against Rolling. But during his jail time for robbery, he had confessed to his inmate Bobby Lewis his identity as the Gainsville Ripper. All of the evidence the police had pointed to Rolling and Humphrey was set free and escaped all charges.
At his 1994 trial, the Gainsville Ripper pleaded guilty and openly confessed his acts of crime. He insisted that his actions were actually performed by his alter-ego, Gemini. The defense argued that the client's acts could not be controlled because of the years of abuse that he suffered at the hands of his father. The jury however felt differently. They felt that he knew what he was doing when he slaughtered those five students and the four girls were just for sexual pleasure. Rolling was found guilty on five counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
He is currently on death row, but will most likely not be executed for years to come due to a number of appeals.