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On this day: Murders discovered at University of Florida


On August 28, 1990, the bodies of Tracy Paules and Manuel Taboada were 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 in two separate locations near the campus. Authorities determined that all five murders were connected, and the Gainesville student community panicked.

The first murders spawned a massive investigation including 75 state and federal agents and 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. 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 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.

Daniel Harold "Danny" Rolling later confessed to committing a 1989 triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana, and attempting to murder his father in May 1990. Rolling confessed to killing eight people. Rolling was sentenced to death for the murders in 1994. He was executed by lethal injection in 2006.

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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