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Oxygen And E! Revisit The Gainesville Ripper Case, Which Inspired The Hit Movie 'Scream'

A serial killer known as the Gainesville Ripper, murdered Florida college students Christina P. Powell, Sonya Larson, Christa Leight Hoyt, Tracy Inez Paules and Manuel R. Toboda during a four-day period in 1990.

By Gina Tron
Danny Rolling Scream Mask Ap G

Oxygen and E! will be kicking off their look back at vintage true crime cases next week with the Florida serial killer case that influenced the hit horror franchise “Scream.”

A revisitation of the real case shows how the true events inspired the script for the 1996 Wes Craven instant classic. In the teen slasher film, two killers stalk and kill teen after teen over the course of days. The murders terrorized the small fictional town of Woodsboro, California.

In 1990, the Gainesville Ripper's killing spree also lasted just a matter of days, paralyzing the Florida city and killing five college students within a four-day span in August. He callously mutilated his victims' bodies, fully decapitating one of them. Some of the bodies were found in intricate staged poses.  

Christina P. Powell, 17, Sonya Larson, 18, Christa Leight Hoyt, 18, Tracy Inez Paules, and Manuel R. Toboda, both 23, all died in the killing spree. All of the young women were students at the University of Florida who were ripped away from their families in a shocking manner. 

Danny Rolling, an itinerant drifter, was charged in 1991 with multiple counts of murder and spent years gearing up for a high-profile trial. However, he changed his mind and entered a guilty plea to all charges in 1994. He was sentenced to death that year and executed in 2006. A 1994 episode of ABC News' "Turning Point" about his spree prompted screenwriter Kevin Williamson to write "Woodsboro Murders," the script which later became "Scream."

In a detailed two-part series, E! and Oxygen are revisiting the case. Part 1 is available right now on E!; it dives into the very first crime scene, which was the murder of University of Florida freshmen and roommates Powell and Larson, who were found slain in their apartment complex.

Part 2 of the series will be published Saturday, Oct. 16, on Oxygen.com.

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