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Police: ‘Promising Evidence’ Found In College Slayings With PM-Gainesville-Football Season

September 7, 1990

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Investigators found ″promising evidence″ in the slayings of five college students when they searched the lodgings and car of a suspect, a spokeswoman said today.

On Thursday, investigators searched the apartment of the suspect, 18-year- old part-time student Edward Lewis Humphrey, as well as the home of his grandmother and his car. They also took blood and hair samples from Humphrey.

″We did not leave empty-handed,″ Lt. Sadie Darnell, Gainesville police spokeswoman, told a news briefing today.

Besides calling the evidence promising, she declined to elaborate. On Thursday, she had said that while she was not prepared to label Humphrey a prime suspect, ″it is obvious we have a lot of information on Mr. Humphrey.″

Humphrey, whom police describe as one of eight suspects in last month’s grisly slayings, has not been charged in the deaths.

He remained jailed today on $1 million bond in connection with an assault on his grandmother shortly after the killings. And Thursday, University of Florida police announced they issued a warrant charging Humphrey with two counts of aggravated assault in another incident Aug. 25, a day before the first two bodies were found.

Police would not give details of the incident, but The Miami Herald reported today that two freshmen, both 18-year-old male fraternity pledges, were threatened with a knife at the Pi Lambda Phi house.

Also Thursday, a judge in Sharpes cited Humphrey’s bizarre behavior when he upheld a $1 million bond on the charge that Humphrey assaulted his 79-year-old grandmother.

″I see before me a very disturbed individual,″ Circuit Judge Martin Budnick said. ″I see a great deal of acting out ... neurotic or psychotic behavior.″

Budnick ruled that Humphrey is a danger to the community. But he indicated he would consider another request for bond reduction and wanted to hear medical testimony about Humphrey’s mental condition.

Humphrey’s grandmother testified she didn’t want to press charges and would welcome Humphrey back into her home, where Humphrey’s mother also lives.

″I want it dropped ... definitely,″ Elna Hlavaty, her right cheek and right eye badly bruised, said as Humphrey looked on.

She said she didn’t fear her grandson, although she had called police repeatedly.

Ms. Hlavaty said she couldn’t remember details of the night she was hurt, other than that she bruised her right side when she fell on a concrete floor.

Sheriff’s Deputy Douglas Hammack testified she told him the night of the arrest that she feared Humphrey would beat her again.

Warrants also have been issued for Humphrey in Indian River County for attempted sexual battery and armed burglary in an attack on a woman two years ago.

Four women and a man, all students at the University of Florida or Santa Fe Community College, were slain last month in three attacks. Three victims were mutilated; one was decapitated, police said.

Humphrey and Stephen Michael Bates, a 30-year-old Lakeland short-order cook, have been mentioned publicly as suspects. Bates has been held in the Polk County Jail on $100,500 bail since his Aug. 29 arrest in an unrelated assault.

In Colorado, meanwhile, authorities disclosed Thursday that Humphrey was arrested two weeks before the Gainesville killings began on charges of theft and disorderly conduct for failing to pay for $12 worth of gasoline at a convenience store near Ordway, a town about 160 miles southeast of Denver.

When he was booked into the county jail, Humphrey began ″hollering, yelling and flipping out,″ Sgt. Allan Turner of the Crowley County sheriff’s department said. Humphrey also threatened suicide but didn’t threaten anyone else, Turner said.

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