Danny Rolling was born on May 26, 1954, in Shrevesport, Louisiana. His father could best be described as abusive and cold. He was also a cop, a measure that young Rolling held himself up to and seemed doomed to fall short of. Behavioral problems blossomed early and by the time he quit school and joined the Air Force and the age of seventeen he was bombarded with sexually violent fantasies that he attempted to drown out with massive amounts of alcohol.
A woman named O'Mather Halko chose to marry the troubled Rolling shortly after his 1974 Air Force discharge for psychological problems. The two had a daughter together but divorced in 1977 when Halko evidently decided that a perpetually jobless and sexually dysfunctional man was not quite what she longed for in a husband. Her ex-husband continued his downward spiral by being sent to prison in 1979 for armed robbery. A brief escape and recapture was the highlight of his time in prison and he was paroled in 1984.
Arrested for another robbery in 1985, Rolling flashed his increasingly bizarre thinking in court by offering to allow his hands to be cut off instead of serving another prison stretch. His strange offer was refused and Rolling spent another three years locked up, moving in briefly with his parents after his release. Soon he was drifting again (he had been basically homeless since his divorce except for the two prison stays) only to return home and shoot his father on May 17, 1990, during a heated argument. James Rolling fired a warning shot in his son's direction and Danny Rolling left his parents home only to return with his own gun and finish the dispute by blasting his father in the face and stomach. His father was blinded in one eye and deafened in one ear but lived.
This could have been called a catalyst for Rollings future crimes, except that he had already begun his sex killings. In a triple murder on November 24, 1989, Rolling had entered a Shreveport home and stabbed Tom Grissom, his daughter Julie, and her eight-year-old son Sean, to death. Julie Grissom's bound and mutilated body was evidence enough that she was the main target of the horrible crime.
After the shooting of his father Rolling ended up in Gainesville, Florida, and launched a spree of mutilation and mayhem that affected the entire city. On August 23, 1990, the out-of-control slayer murdered roommates Christina Powell, 17, and Sonja Larson, 18, both soon-to-be freshman and the University of Florida. Their repeatedly stabbed bodies were not found until three days later when they had not be heard from or seen and neighbors began to wonder about the blaring music and nasty odor emanating from behind the locked door.
Christa Hoyt, 18, was next and likely because she was alone, Rolling took his time with her, leaving police with a terrifically gruesome crime scene. When they entered Hoyt's apartment on August 27 they found the young woman seated and slumped over at the edge of her bed with her torso slit open from chest to crotch. The Santa Fe Community College student's head was cut off and placed in full view on a nearby bookshelf. Rolling had also cut off her nipples and laid them out on the bed next to the body.
When Tracy Paules and Manuel Toboda, both 23, were murdered only one day later panic unofficially ensued in Gainesville. Both Paules and Toboda were also college students and with classes just beginning in the city's many schools of higher education frightened students were leaving in swarms.
But Rolling soon left Gainesville and continued meandering until his eventual arrest in July of 1991 for yet another botched armed robbery, this time in Ocola, Florida. He was soon linked to the Gainesville slayings and an almost sheepish Rolling pled guilty to the five counts of murder. He earned five death sentences and still sits on death row awaiting his fate.