Two Women College Students Slain in Gainesville, Renewing Fears
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Two women students were found slain Friday in their off-campus apartment, renewing fears in this college town where five people were mutilated and murdered last summer.
Authorities immediately discounted any link to the five slayings.
″The crime scene does not look like the crime scenes that we encountered earlier last year,″ said John Joyce, spokesman for the serial killing task force. ″It appears there are really not any similarities with the murders of last year.″
Joyce said it appeared the women were strangled, but autopsies had not been completed.
The two women were enrolled at the University of Florida, as were four of the five students slain in August, but were not mutilated, Joyce said.
The two women were found fully clothed and the doors to the second-floor apartment were locked, said Gov. Lawton Chiles. Police did not immediately release information on the method of entry into the apartment.
″As far as the fear factor, I think people just have to hope that we can apprehend whoever is responsible for this just as quickly as possible,″ Joyce said.
The bodies of Eleanor Anne Grace, 20, daughter of prominent Fort Myers attorney William Grace, and Carla Marie McKishnie, 22, of Brandon, were found by a boyfriend who broke in through a window after growing worried because he couldn’t reach anybody at the apartment, said Alachua County sheriff’s Capt. Andy Hamilton, a task force commander.
McKishnie, a graduate student with an education degree, and Grace, a sophomore psychology major, were among 16,000 students attending summer classes, the school said.
The bodies were found about a mile from the apartment where two of last summer’s victims were killed.
The apartment was in the same complex where UF student Tiffany Sessions had lived. Sessions disappeared while jogging in 1989 and was never found, despite an intensive search led by her father, Patrick Sessions, a south Florida real estate executive.
Sessions went to Gainesville on Friday, saying he wanted to be close to the investigation ″just to kind of say, ‘Hey, don’t forget about Tiffany.’ ″
″Not that I think they are,″ Sessions said. ″But you know, there’s six victims in all this ... she’s just as gone as these people.″
John Lombardi, president of the 34,000-student school, sought to reassure students and their families that last summer’s nightmare was not being repeated.
″The police tell us these two tragic murders are not related, as far as they’re able to determine, to the previous difficulty and tragedy we had on this campus last fall,″ he said.
With no immediate arrests, he added, ″We’re taking all the normal precautions to be sure our students are as safe as they can be.″
Police patrols will be increased, students will be advised by radio and television to remain alert, and counseling is available to anyone who is insecure or confused about the latest violence, Lombardi said.
News of the killings spread fast across this north Florida campus, which is about halfway through its summer session.
″I’m feeling fear all over again,″ said Ann Marie Henry, 21 of Lakeland, a senior who lives in the Casablanca West apartment complex in southeast Gainesville where the women’s bodies were found.
The same section of town was hit by the serial killings, which left four women and one man dead in a crime wave that chilled the city for weeks. Many parents pulled their children out of school, and some never returned.
″I hope Gainesville doesn’t become a haven for people that want notoriety,″ said Joe Kuveikis, another student.
On Friday, the task force investigating last summer’s slayings sent officers to the scene of the latest killings, and conferred with the governor’s office about the early stages of the investigation, Joyce said.
The slayings of Sonya Larsen, Christina Powell, Christa Hoyt, Tracy Paules and Manual Taboada set off one of the most intensive investigations in state history after their bodies were found last Aug. 26 to 28.
Police have not filed charges in the earlier slayings, but they have named Danny Rolling, who is jailed on unrelated charges and implicated in a string of robberies and burglaries, as the leading suspect.
Former University of Florida student Edward Humphrey, identified as a suspect within days of the killings, has not been ruled out, said State Attorney Len Register, who has implied the two men may both have been involved. Humphrey is in a state hospital for beating his grandmother shortly after he left campus following the student murders.