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A man has been found guilty of being the Daytona Beach Serial Killer, responsible for the murders of three women committed when he was a college cheerleader in the early aughts.
A jury made up of eight women and four men found Robert Tyrone Hayes, 39, guilty on Tuesday of first-degree murder for killing three women in Volusia County back in 2005 and 2006, Fox35 Orlando reports. He displayed no emotion as the verdict was read, following less than a day of deliberations, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
The verdict came after three weeks of trial in which prosecutors argued that Hayes shot the victims with a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson 40VE pistol he bought while living as a seemingly normal college student at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. He was studying criminal justice and performing as a cheerleader at the time of the murders, CBS News reports.
Hayes was arrested in 2019 after investigators grabbed a cigarette he flicked into a beer can and compared it to DNA found at one the scene of a fourth woman's death: Rachel Bey, 32, of Riviera Beach, who was found sexually abused and strangled on the side of the road 2016.
From there, he was linked back to the 2005 and 2006 murders of Laquetta Gunther, 45, Julie Green, 34, and Iwana Patton, 35, through DNA and genetic genealogy. Gunther was found between an auto parts store and a mostly empty utility building around Christmas 2005, CBS News reports. Green’s body was found less than a month later on a dirt road at a construction site. One month later, Patton was also found along a dirt road. All were discovered naked and lying face down. All had been shot in the head.
Prosecutors said that Hayes killed Gunther, Green and Patton after they got into his car, Click Orlando reports. Hayes’ defense admitted that he had sex with his victims, hence the DNA, but denied killing them, WESH reports. Gunther, Green and Patton all had connections with sex work, and prosecutors highlighted during the trial that Hayes preyed on the vulnerable. Their killings struck intense fear in the sex work community at the time.
Hayes now faces a possible death sentence. The sentencing phase will begin next week. He has not been convicted of killing Bey.
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