Where is Danny Rolling now? | The true story of the Gainesville Ripper

Danny Rolling

What did Danny Rolling do?

Danny Rolling murdered five students in Gainesville, Florida, over a four-day period in August 1990. In addition to this, he admitted to a triple homicide in his home city of Shreveport, Louisiana, and the attempted murder of his father in May 1990. 

Of the five students murdered in the Gainesville spree, four were from the university of Florida, and one was from Santa Fe College. The murders took place during a burglary and robbery spree, and he mutilated his victims’ bodies and even decapitated one of them. 

The spree started in the early hours of the 24th August, when Rolling broke into an apartment shared by Sonja Larson and Christina Powell. He murdered them both and posed their bodies in a sexually provocative manner. 

The next day, Rolling broke into the apartment of Christa Hoyt, and when discovering she wasn’t home, he waited for her. He surprised her from behind by placing her in a chokehold and tied her up and raped her before murdering her.

The media caught onto the story, and it caused mass hysteria in the student community, with many taking extra precautions. On the 27th August, Rolling struck again. This time, the victims were Tracy Paules and her roommate Manny Taboada. He found Taboada asleep in her bedroom and killed her after a struggle. Paules heard noises coming from the room, and headed towards her roommate’s room where she saw Rolling. She tried to barricade herself in her room, but Rolling broke the door down, taped her mouth and wrists, raped her and stabbed her to death. 

How did law enforcement catch Danny Rolling?

Louisiana police got in touch with the authorities in Florida and told them of an unsolved triple murder in Shreveport from 1989 that bared a striking resemblance to their spree case. Tom Grissom, his daughter Julie and his 8-year-old grandson Sean had been attacked in their home and killed. They tested bodily fluids found at the scene from the perpetrator, and found that he had type B blood, which was the same as the Gainesville ripper. 

A woman from Shreveport also gave the Florida police a tip off on the possibility of Danny Rolling being involved in the spree murders, and they quickly found him already in prison for a supermarket robbery. 

What is Danny Rolling’s connection to the Scream movies? 

Kevin Williamson was supposedly inspired by the story of the Gainesville Ripper when writing the hit slasher movie, Scream, back in the 1990s. The story goes that he was housesitting for a friend and watched a documentary about Danny Rolling, which creeped him out. Then he started to hear strange noises from outside, prompting him to lock all the doors and close all the windows. The murder spree gave him the core idea for Scream, and he began writing the screenplay, which he finished in just one weekend. 

Where is Danny Rolling now? 

Danny Rolling confessed to killing eight people and was sentenced to death for the five Gainesville murders in 1994. He was executed by lethal injection in 2006.

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