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Suspected 'Daytona Serial Killer' Charged With Three Cold Case Slayings
Robert Hayes is suspected of brutally murdering three women years ago in Daytona Beach, and authorities think he may have killed a fourth.
A Florida man suspected of being the so-called “Daytona Serial Killer ” has been indicted in a series of killings that have remained unsolved for years.
Robert Hayes, 37, of West Palm Beach, will likely be tried in Volusia County for the slayings of Laquetta Gunther, Julie Green and Iwana Patton — all shot dead in 2005 and 2006.
During a Thursday news conference, State Attorney R.J. Larizza said Hayes faces three charges of first-degree murder with a firearm.
The case is bolstered by testimony from a survivor of an alleged Hayes attack, who apparently reached out to authorities after press coverage of Hayes' arrest in September, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Larizza added that the person’s alleged brush with Hayes occurred “around those homicides in ‘05 and ‘06 here in Volusia County.”
Authorities also have interviewed a witness to the survivor’s alleged attack.
What's more, Larizza stated that Hayes is also being investigated in the murder of a fourth woman — 30-year-old Stacey Gage — but so far no charges have been brought, according to WESH 2 News.
Hayes had been enrolled at the local Bethune-Cookman University at the time of the killings, and allegedly bought a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson from Buck’s Gun Rack in Daytona Beach, according to The News-Journal.
Hayes' DNA allegedly was found on Laquetta Gunther, 45, whose body was discovered on Christmas Eve 2005. She had been shot in the head and set up in a kneeling position between two Daytona buildings.
The body of Julie Green, 34, turned up in a ditch near a city construction site months later, also having been shot in the head.
While no DNA link has been established in the 2006 slaying of Iwana Patton, ballistic tests allegedly point back to the same weapon used in other murders Hayes is suspected of committing.
Authorities have also zeroed in on the 2008 murder Gage, whose death has been described as "eerily similar" to the other slain women, The News-Journal reported.
For almost 15 years, Hayes had managed to avoid capture.
But in September, surveilling detectives collected a cigarette that had been smoked then flicked by Hayes while he was at a bus stop near his home.
Forensic tests on the cigarette linked Hayes to the 2016 murder of Rachel Bey, 32, authorities say. Bey's strangled body was left naked on a highway where it was discovered by construction workers in March 2016.
“Had we not done this, we’re pretty certain he would have killed again,” Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw told reporters following Hayes’s appearance in West Palm Beach court on first-degree murder charges, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Prosecutors in Palm Beach County have already announced that they are seeking the death penalty if Hayes is convicted in the Bey murder.
Hayes has pleaded not guilty to murder and sexual battery charges in Palm Beach County. An arraignment date for the three new murder charges was not immediately available.