Danny Rolling, popularly known as the Gainesville Ripper, killed five university students in August 1990. Spaced over three days, the murders also coincided with a robbery in nearby Ocala.
Rolling, who was absconding after attempting to murder his father by shooting him i the face, had set up a campsite in the woods near campus that was discovered in connection to the robbery and later connected to the murder investigation. Authorities then took a closer look at the evidence, or in this case, a closer listen.
Rolling had left behind a cassette tape—and was apparently a bit of a singer-songwriter.
“You’re a killer, a drifter gone insane… You’re a rebel no one can tame,” sang Rolling in a song titled ”Mystery Rider,” which can be heard on “Mark of a Killer,” premiering Jan. 20 at 7/6c.
Referred to in court documents as “tape recordings to his family,” these audio diaries contained apologies and love for his mother, father and brother, and eleven songs about heartbreak and outlaws.
Rolling, who recorded the songs on August 4, 1990, days before murdering the five students, was on the run after he had attempted to kill his father, a retired police officer, a few months before.
While he had started recording the tape in Sarasota, he completed it in Gainesville mere hours before he killed his first victim on August 23, 1990, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The tape, which is 58 minutes long, was played during the trial because prosecutor Rod Smith wanted to show how Rolling had premeditated the murders.
Rolling’s recordings are available for sale for a pretty penny on unauthorized websites that claim to sell the soundtrack with songs titled “Hurt Me More Than I Love You” and “Broken Hearts.”
The song “Broken Hearts” includes the disturbing lyric “little girls are not all sugar and spice,” according to The Orlando Sentinel.
“You just pushed me away at a young age, Pop… I wanted to make you proud of me,” sang Rolling, addressing his father, who allegedly abused him, directly on tape, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I let you down. I'm sorry for that. Well, I'm gonna sign off for a little bit. I got something I gotta do. I love ya. Bye.''
Country music was something Rolling had in common with ex-girlfriend Bunny Mills, who was a country singer and music producer. The two met in 1988, according to court documents. At the trial, Mills testified that Rolling did not seek therapy because he was afraid his father would find out what he would say, according to United Press International.
Crime scenes are complex even in their chaos. “Mark of a Killer” examines the “marks” of serial killers from the ages on Oxygen, Sundays, 7/6c.
[Photo: Gainesville Police Department]
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