Update on the Daytona Beach Killer
Iwana Patton, found Feb. 24, 2006Julie Green, found Jan. 14, 2006Laquetta Gunther, found Dec. 26, 2005Stacey Gage, found Jan. 2, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH — With zero to go on in the case of four murdered women, police here are hoping that a dozen or so new tips could lead them to a serial killer and fire up the cold case that has confounded them since 2006.
Ever since the case of the Daytona Beach serial killer was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” last Saturday, 50 new tips have rolled in. Police say about one-third of those are solid.
“We’ll be immediately looking into those,” said Sgt. Clem Malek, a retired Daytona Beach detective who was brought back to the agency to investigate the case.
It was 2006 when detectives learned the shooting deaths of three women was the work of a serial killer.
Police compared the DNA the killer left on two of those first three victims with DNA samples stored in the FBI’s national database. The DNA kept in the database belongs to other violent criminals from across the country.
But there was a sticking point. The man responsible for the local deaths had apparently never committed a violent crime or had never been caught committing one; his DNA sample was not in the FBI database.
Then, in January 2008, a fourth woman was found in a wooded area near an old church. There was no DNA because her body had been exposed to the elements for about a month. It was the only case where the body of the victim was not found immediately following the murder. But the killer left behind other clues that were “eerily similar” to those left behind in the other three shootings, Police Chief Mike Chitwood said at the time.
One thing was certain. All four victims had been shot with the same weapon, a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber Sigma Series VE. Police have been trying to find their suspect by identifying, via paperwork, who may have purchased the weapon but it is a lengthy and difficult process.
A few weeks ago, though, police released a few more clues about their wanted man in this newspaper and then on the popular TV show.
Based on tire tracks left at the scene of one of the shootings, investigators believe the killer may have been driving — or still drives — a 2003 Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable. The tires that left their mark in the mud at that murder scene — the second killing in January 2006 — were the factory tires placed on either the Taurus or the Mercury when those cars rolled off the assembly line, Malek said.
Malek also said the car could be someone’s company vehicle.
Additionally, all four women were found nude, but the killer left socks on three of his four victims, police said.
The clues are significant because police are hoping that someone out there knows something about the tires, the car or the socks.
“We have nothing,” Chitwood said Friday. “That’s why we went on (“America’s Most Wanted”). At least now we have something to go on. There are about a dozen tips that we have to jump all over.”
Malek, however, wants the public to know that while police have fresh leads to pursue, the case is by no means solved.
“We are still welcoming phone calls,” he said.
If you have any information concerning any of these murders, please call the hotline, 866-419-8573.