The serial killer who stabbed and bludgeoned five college students is possibly a security guard or hospital orderly and has knowledge of weapons and crime scenes, a psychological profile reportedly shows.
Police said today that they have been flooded with calls and letters from people claiming to have information about the killer who has terrified the University of Florida community.
“We don’t know who he is. . . . He may appear as normal as you or I except he murders people,” Police Lt. Sadie Darnell said. “We’re nowhere near saying we’ve got a suspect, but we’re very encouraged with the cooperation we’re getting.”
The Miami Herald, quoting sources, reported today that the profile being prepared for investigators shows the killer is probably in his late 20s or early 30s.
The report did not indicate what the profile was based on but said the killer is probably not a sworn police officer or a doctor but rather is someone who works more along the lines of a security guard or a hospital orderly.
The report said authorities believe the five slayings are the work of one person who is knowledgeable of weapons and crime scenes and who frequents places where students congregate--bars or clubs.
More than a thousand friends and family members gathered at a Pompano Beach church today to mourn one of the victims, 18-year-old Sonja Larson.
Her boyfriend, Mic Ocasio, wept uncontrollably as the Rev. Ken Smith called the murders “tragic, painful, scary and horrible.”
“Was it just last week we sat and talked about the future? . . . Now it’s gone, all gone.”
The victims--students at either the University of Florida or Santa Fe Community College--were stabbed to death in off-campus apartments in three attacks discovered since Sunday. Police said three of the women were mutilated.
The bodies of Larson and her roommate, Christina Powell, 17, were found Sunday, authorities said. The body of Christa Hoyt, 18, was found Monday. The bodies of Tracey Inez Paules, 23, and Manuel R. Taboada, 23, were discovered Tuesday.
Police encouraged Gainesville residents to report anything--even a “gut reaction"--that might help them track the killer, but they also appealed for calm.
“We’ve had officers who have been out on a call and have been met at the door by guns,” Darnell said. “We don’t want any additional tragedies.”
Police officials held a news conference today but refused to reveal much about the investigation for fear of spoiling it. They declined to say when the FBI will finish drafting a psychological profile of the killer.
“Again we do not have a profile. It’s too early,” Darnell said.
Alachua County Sheriff’s Lt. Spencer Mann said the FBI provided investigators with “preliminary information” but declined comment on the Miami Herald report about the profile.
Tampa television station WTVT reported receiving a letter, signed only with the initials “K. T.,” from someone claiming to know the killer. The letter, postmarked in Tampa, said the murderer was a failed medical student and was leaving Gainesville.
“Letters like that, we’ve received at least 30 of those. . . . I don’t believe that’s unusual,” Darnell said.
Calls poured in at the rate of 1,400 per hour to the 150-member task force investigating the murders. Some suspicious sightings turned out to be nothing more than tree branches brushing against the sides of houses, Darnell said.