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Murder Suspect Had ‘Crush’ on Victim

from Associated Press

An emotionally troubled University of Florida freshman under scrutiny in the grisly murders of five college students had a strong attraction for one of the slain women, a former neighbor said.

Edward Lewis Humphrey, who was arrested Thursday for beating his grandmother but is a suspect in the murders, lived briefly this summer at the Gatorwood apartments, where the bodies of Tracey Inez Paules, 23, and her roommate, Manuel R. Taboada, 23, were found.

Humphrey had a “major crush on Tracey,” said Rachel Olivier, 22, who also lived at the apartments. “He’d fall over himself to be near her or to help her. He’d go and sit by the pool and watch when she’d come out.”

Humphrey also lived for a short time at Tolbert Hall, a dormitory where victim Christina P. Powell, 17, lived during summer school.

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The other stabbing victims were 18-year-old Sonja Larsen, and Christa L. Hoyt, 18. Four of the victims were students at the University of Florida. Taboada was a student at Santa Fe Community College.

Humphrey, 18, of Indialantic, Fla., “continues to be a very good suspect for the moment,” said police spokeswoman Lt. Sadie Darnell. But “we have other good suspects,” about a dozen in all, she said.

“To me, it’s frightening that there are so many candidates out there who could be considered candidates for a crime of this caliber,” Darnell added.

Darnell cautioned that the killings might not all be linked to a single suspect. The killer may still be at large, she said, and people should remain on guard.

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“We cannot say the killing is over. We don’t know. We don’t have anyone in custody for the murders,” she said.

Among other suspects, she mentioned Warren Virgil Tinch, 58, an Ohio fugitive wanted for the mutilation stabbing death of a woman in that state. Someone matching his general description stole cars in Gainesville and Ocala, Fla., a week before the murders.

Humphrey remained jailed Saturday in Brevard County in central Florida on $1-million bond on a charge of assaulting his 79-year-old grandmother. Authorities have interrogated him at length about the Gainesville murders and taken blood samples, but no additional charges have been filed.

Brevard County Sheriff Jake Miller and neighbors described Humphrey as a troubled youth who was involved in an auto accident two years ago in which he fell or threw himself from a car moving at more than 60 m.p.h.

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He has been taking the mood-stabilizing drug lithium, said Randy Moore, chief felony attorney with the Brevard County public defender’s office.


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