DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Authorities announced on Monday that they have made an arrest in a nearly 14-year-old serial killer case.
The Orlando Sentinel, a media partner of the News Station, reported that three women with histories of prostitution were found shot in the head execution style in 2005 and 2006. Detectives said that the three women were killed within two months of each other, with the first victim being discovered in 2005.
The victims were all reportedly found dead in secluded places around Daytona Beach. Investigators found matching DNA on two of the bodies and the bullets matched as well.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a press conference on Monday morning that they have arrested 37-year-old Robert Hayes as the man behind these three unsolved murders.
He said that investigators used a genealogy company, ancestry.com, to find a distant relative of the DNA found. They worked backwards to identify Hayes and then followed him around. While doing so, they were able to recover a cigarette butt and beer bottle from him. They used this to test his DNA. They found that it matched the DNA found on the first Daytona victim.
Fox 35's Sydney Cameron spoke with one of the loved ones of the victim, who said that they have waited a long time for this day. In just the short time Fox 35 had with he, she danced and cried as she reacted to the arrest made.
"Thank God they finally caught this piece of garbage," Stacy Dittmer said. She was one of the last people to see Laquette Gunter, the victim who died just before Christmas in 2005, alive. They planned to cook Christmas dinner together that night but then she was murdered.
Chitwood also told Fox 35 that "I spoke to one of the victim’s families last night, again today. They are absolutely ecstatic. They didn’t think they’d be alive to see this day come."
Police believe a fourth woman who was murdered nearly a year later in 2008 may be linked to the same killer as well. She did not have a history of prostitution, but the circumstances of her death were similar to the other victims. There is no hard evidence tying her murder to Hayes yet though.
The State Attorney's Office plans to charge Hayes soon with the other death sin Volusia County. He is currently locked up in Palm Beach County.