Florida Students Angry, Fearful After Five Killed With AM-Gainesville Slayings, Bjt
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Fear and anger swept through the University of Florida on Tuesday as students reacted to mounting evidence that five young people had fallen prey to a serial killer.
″We want answers, not double talk,″ a female student told city Police Chief Wayland Clifton at one of two counseling and information sessions held by police and university officials.
Hundreds of students left school and went home temporarily, many at their parents’ urging, after the bodies of a young woman and a young man were discovered Tuesday, school officials said. Most at the 34,000-student university stayed and continued with classes.
The bodies of two young women were discovered Sunday and a third on Monday. All five were killed at off-campus apartment complexes that house students.
Reinforcements from the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other agencies poured into town. They patrolled the campus and dozens of apartment complexes where many of the 20,000 students live off campus.
Julie Basch, an 18-year-old student at nearby Santa Fe Community College, said she was returning to her home in Orlando. Her parents ″told me I’m coming home,″ she said.
A junior journalism student at the university, who refused to identify herself, said her father was coming in from Tallahassee to bring her a gun he’d bought for her.
″I’ll stay for a while, but I may drop out this semester,″ she said.
More than 1,200 students jammed a student center auditorium to hear Clifton, university President John Lombardi and others explain the killings and outline precautions they should take.
Clifton came under fire from students at the two hour-long meetings for holding back information on the killings and refusing to say whether break-ins were involved.
Police said there were no signs of forcible entry in the apartment of the first two victims, but Alachua County officials have declined to discuss the method of entry in the other two apartments.
″At least tell us that so we can know what we should do,″ said student Karyn James. ″Here we are buying all kinds of locks and deadbolts, and we don’t even know whether we should.″
″You’re not giving us enough information 3/8″ a male student yelled at the chief, expressing the frustration of others in the audience.
Police identified the victims late Tuesday. Three of the young women were university students and the fourth woman was from Santa Fe Community College. The male victim was an incoming student at Santa Fe.
Clifton, the sheriff’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement refused to give specifics of how they died. Officials said they didn’t want to release information that would hamper their investigation.
Clifton said there was a lot of physical evidence that pointed to one or two suspects. Some of the bodies were mutilated, he said.
While some of the students who live in Florida or nearby were going home, others expressed concern because they could not.
Carol McCormac, a graduate student in forestry from Scio, Ore., said she and her boyfriend had moved in with friends of his in Gainesville.
″I just arrived a week ago,″ she said. ″Welcome to Gainesville. ... I don’t think we’re getting enough answers.″
″People are all stressed out. ... They’re scared,″ said Jacob Mellonheim, 19. ″People are getting together, they’re not staying alone.″
University officials arranged to provide temporary campus housing at dormitory lounges and other buildings for any single woman who did not want to stay by herself off-campus.
The county Crisis Center and the University Counseling Service provided special phone numbers and offered assistance to students.
All students, particularly women, were told repeatedly to call home to assure their parents they were all right.
″You know you’re all right but your parents and friends don’t know you’re all right. So please call home,″ said university President Lombardi.