Danny Rolling Execution Of A Serial Killer

Danny Rolling was a serial killer that was executed by the State of Florida for a series of murders

According to court documents Danny Rolling would murder five students in a four day period

  • Danny Rolling would break into the home of Sonja Larson and Christina Powell. Both of the young women would be stabbed to death and Powell was sexually assaulted
  • The next day Danny Rolling would break into the apartment of 18-year-old Christa Hoyt who was stabbed to death
  • A day later Danny Rolling would break into the home of Tracy Paules, 23 years old, was living and Manny Taboada, also 23. Taboada would be fatally stabbed as he slept and Tracy would be sexually assaulted and murdered

Danny Rolling would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. While on death row Rolling would confess to three additional murders and the attempted murder of his father

Danny Rolling would be executed by lethal injection on October 25 2006

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When Was Danny Rolling Executed

Danny Rolling was executed on October 25 2006

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Danny Harold Rolling, the murderous serial rapist and mutilator who paralyzed an entire college town with fear, didn’t give a last word Wednesday before he died in Florida’s death chamber. He sang his own hymn.

While restrained in a gurney, Rolling turned his head and briefly gazed with pale blue eyes at the mother of one of his five victims, then sang in a haunting Louisiana drawl of angels, mountains and, in a reference to St. Paul, of seeing “through a glass now, darkly.” For three minutes, as the lethal-injection drugs were about to pump into him, Rolling chanted the refrain, ”None greater than thee, Oh Lord. None greater than thee.” He continued to sing or speak in the windowed chamber after the microphone was cut. Never once did he mention sorrow or regret for his deadly Gainesville rampage 16 years ago that snuffed out five young people. Nor did he sing of the pain it caused, or ask for forgiveness.

And there was little forgiveness coming from the dozen family members in the witness room that was packed with 30 other spectators. Ricky Paules, the mother at whom Rolling had glanced, said she had one reaction: “Hatred. Very, very bitter throughout the whole thing. I saw his breath go out of him. . . . We waited for this time. And justice was done.” With Rolling’s death, she said, she could remember only her daughter, Tracy Paules.

Rolling, 52, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m., 13 minutes after he started singing and two minutes after his body stopped quivering and his jowls fell, puffed and discolored. He was the 63rd person executed since 1973, when Florida reinstated the death penalty.

In only one respect did Rolling’s death mirror that of his victims — he was bound and helpless. But unlike his victims, Rolling wasn’t attacked by ambush while he slept. His victims were stabbed so hard with his U.S. Marine Corps-style KBAR knife that their chipped and slashed bones were later shown to the jury. After Rolling was pronounced dead, the staff at Florida State Prison wheeled his body out. In contrast, Rolling posed his mutilated victims in sexually provocative positions and kept body parts as trophies.

”I’m a nurse, and I’ve seen my patients die. And they died a much more horrific death than what this man suffered through, that’s for sure. He relaxed, went to sleep, did not feel anything,” Dianna Hoyt, stepmother of victim Christa Hoyt, said later. “Today’s been a very surreal day for me. It’s like a dream, walking through a dream.”

Outside the death chamber in a nearby pasture, anti-death penalty protesters sung Kumbaya and Blowin’ in the Wind. Dozens of media satellite trucks sprouted in another area, in a scene reminiscent of the 1989 electric-chair execution of Florida’s most notorious killer, Ted Bundy. A year after Bundy’s death, Rolling arrived in Gainesville on a Greyhound bus, pitched a tent in the woods and recorded a tape of self-written songs for his family. Years later, at an appeals hearing, Rolling broke out in song in honor of a woman he asked to marry him from prison.

Reared Pentecostal, Rolling sought spiritual advice on his last day from a minister of the church. Prosecutors and Rolling himself said he swung between deep faith and pure evil. At some point, Rolling later said, he vowed to kill a person for each of the eight years he had spent in prisons in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. In addition to the five Gainesville murders, Rolling is suspected of killing a family of three, the Grissoms, in his native Shreveport, La.

Another motive for his killings: Rolling later said in one of his confessions that he wanted to become a ”superstar.” His tools were simple: his Ka-Bar knife; duct tape; a handgun and a screwdriver for break-ins. For his first double homicide in Gainesville, he didn’t even need the screwdriver or gun when he saw the door was unlocked at town house 113 in the Williamsburg Village Apartments.

Rolling found Christina Powell, 17, sleeping downstairs. Upstairs, Sonja Larson was asleep as well. He bound them both, raped one and stabbed them to death. Their bodies were found the Sunday before the fall semester was to begin at the University of Florida. They hadn’t even unpacked all their boxes. The next morning, 18-year-old Christa Hoyt was found decapitated, her head wedged on a bookshelf. And the following day, Paules and her apartment mate friend, Manny Taboada, both 23, were found dead.

The town of Gainesville was in a panic. Scores of state and federal police swept in and drew blood samples from a number of men. A rumor hot line produced numerous bad leads, and whispers that police were hiding more bodies to cover up an even more massive slaying. Hundreds of University of Florida students disenrolled. Others slept a dozen to a house. Deadbolt locks flew off the shelves. So did guns.

Unknown to authorities, Rolling was arrested shortly after the killings on an unrelated charge of robbing a grocery store. Investigators focused on him at the suggestion of Louisiana authorities investigating the Grissom killings.

On Wednesday, that long-ago sweltering August seemed far away. The day was crisp and the emotions were far more muted. Death-penalty supporters whistled and clapped with word of Rolling’s demise. Opponents methodically banged a hammer on an anvil. Tonya Wilson, 34, said she attended to remember her roommates, Larson and Powell, with whom she was to room in 1990. ”I’m here for Christi and Sonja,” she said, holding back tears. “I told them I would be from the beginning.” She said she’s glad Rolling is finally dead, but wishes the punishment better fit the crime.


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