1200 Weimer Hall | P.O. Box 118405
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-5551

A service of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

© 2024 WUFT / Division of Media Properties
News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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.

Chris O’Brien is a reporter at WUFT. Follow him on Twitter @THEChrisOB or contact him at Christophercobrien29@gmail.com.