Friday, October 27, 2006

Danny Rolling's execution

I was going to write about this last night, before I got distracted by Jim Webb's kiddie p0rn. My reflections on the execution of 1990 Gainesville serial killer Danny Rolling:

I had just begun my classes at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The first week of classes, at that. It was my first foray into living away from home, fresh out of high school and excited (yet nervous) about what was ahead of me.

As I watched the news those evenings, I was horrified by what was happening to these coeds in Gainesville. The "Seminoles vs. Gators" rivalries were completely wiped out of our collective minds in Tallahassee, as we were mortified by the carnage that was gripping the Gainesville community in fear.

I remember seeing that the Tallahassee law enforcement community was worried about a potential copycat situation happening in Tally. This fear was exacerbated by the execution of former Tallahassee serial killer Ted Bundy about a year and a half before the Gainesville murders, therefore the reminder of what Bundy had wrought on the Tallahassee community (and the FSU campus, in particular) was still semi-lingering. I'm sure my parents had been more than sufficiently worried during the time.

I remember thinking, "My God, the anguish that the parents of these kids must be experiencing!" It's every parent's worst nightmare to lose a child. It's also every college student's parent's greatest sense of anxiety when their child goes off to college to face the great unknown for the first time in their lives. Combine these two fears, and the sadness that must have choked these poor families had to have been overwhelming at the time...and perhaps even still today.

The beast who commited these acts of barbarism was a piece of human debris named Danny Rolling. By the time he was caught, four years later, he had savagely killed five people: Sonja Larson, 18; Christina Powell, 17; Christa Hoyt, 18; Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada, both 23. He confessed to the crimes and was sentenced to die, and after sixteen years of delays and appeals, Rolling was lethally injected two days ago. In various interviews since then, the victims' families feel that they have justice and closure, even if their pain never completely goes away.

This isn't a political post, just my own personal reflections of the time that the Gainesville murders happened. If you folks want to comment on any aspect of this, even the death penalty, feel free (though this wasn't intended to be a forum for the death penalty, I won't be offended if you guys want to weigh in on it). May God keep the families and friends of these five young people strong.