Four Days, Five Murders: A WUFT-TV Special


In August 1990 a serial killer terrorized Gainesville, murdering five students just as the fall semester began.

The macabre acts left this normally quiet college town in utter shock. Students fled, residents hunkered down. They huddled together in crowds or slept with baseball bats by their pillows. The fear that gripped Gainesville would not subside for many weeks until the killer was caught and charged with the crimes.

Three decades later the names of the victims — Sonja Larson, Christina Powell, Christa Hoyt, Manuel Taboada, and Tracy Paules —remain freshly painted on the 34th Street wall memorial. Many younger, newer residents pass by daily without knowing why the names are there.

But for those who lived through it, the memories haunt.

To explore our full podcast series on this tragedy, click here.

About Chris O'Brien

Chris O’Brien is a reporter at WUFT. Follow him on Twitter @THEChrisOB or contact him at

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