Another Chapter Closes In The Danny Rolling Case
Now's all that's left from one of the most expensive and complex murder investigations in Florida history is the evidence.
On Wednesday, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office opened more than 2,000 remaining pieces of evidence in the 1990 Danny Rolling student murders case in another step toward closure in the murders that forever affected the Gainesville community.
These items were instrumental to the investigation, but never made it to court. Some items evoking memories for investigators and anyone who lived in Gainesville during the massive hunt for the serial killer back in 1990 included Danny Rolling's guitar and items from his infamous campsite in the woods.
Individually, each piece of evidence seemingly innocuous, served a greater purpose to catch a killer.
Sheriff Captain Legran Hewitt was a detective back then, and spent three years on the case. Hewitt said that among the thousands of pieces of evidence, paper towels proved to be an essential part in the investigation.
"We found paper towels at every crime scene, which showed a continuing course of events over a series of days," said Hewitt.
"Mountains of evidence, everything from receipts which again may have something as simple, has a date and time stamp on them," said ASO Lt. Steve Maynard.
This trail of evidence led to several suspects, and managing it all was of critical importance and a committment to cooperation.
"If a citizen said that they found a knife on the sidewalk 10 miles from where the crime scenes occurred we went and collected that knife," said Maynard.
While the knife that was used was never found, the thousands of clues that led to Danny Rolling will now be incinerated closing yet another chapter in the Gainesville student murders. But, the Gainesville community will never forget.
"I don't believe there will be total closure.. Especially for the victim's families... There's not a day they don't grapple with this issue.. This loss," said Spencer Mann, State Attorney's Office spokesperson.
Families of the victims have already taken the personal effects of their loved ones, which had carefully been set aside.
Mann recounts of the time when he was with the Sheriff's Office and at the center of the investigation.
"Crime scene investigators collecting that, they never cross-contaminated by interacting with each other. They sent it to separate labs. There were a lot of things done right on the front end that really helped this case be a solid evidenciary case."
A case that was closed when Rolling was put to death brings an end to the material evidence, but the scars will remain open.
"This really closes another chapter as opposed to the entire situation," said Mann.
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