Student murder defendant implicates self

MIAMI -- The defendant in the 1990 student murders in northern Florida has implicated himself by revealing details only the killer would know to a fellow inmate, who passed them on to prison authorities, it was reported Saturday.

Danny Rolling, 38, who is serving five life sentences for unrelated burglaries and robberies, discussed the murders with inmate Bobby Lewis and both later talked with authorities at the state prison at Starke, the Miami Herald said.


The Herald said it learned of the discussions from four sources in law enforcement who are not members of the task force investigating the 1990 murders of five students at the University of Florida in Gainesville and at a nearby community college. It said prison records confirmed task force members met with the two at least twice.

Investigators believe Rolling because he provided information not previously disclosed, such as how the students were killed, how the wounds were inflicted, the layout of the three murder scenes, the items and how he selected the victims.

The sources declined to reveal what was said about the August 1990 murders but said Lewis showed interest in a reduction of his life sentence for killing a Jacksonville man. The sources would not say if he was promised any concessions for eliciting the information from Rolling.


The Herald said before the meetings, Rolling had told Lewis orally and in writing how he killed the students.

In the past, Rolling has publicly maintained his innocence in the slayings of Sonja Larson, 18, of Deerfield Beach; Christi Powell, 17, of Jacksonville; Christa Hoyt, 18, of Gainesville; Tracy Paules, 23, and Manny Taboada, 23, both of Miami.

Task force spokesman Will Irby said he would 'neither confirm nor deny that' when he was asked about the meetings. The Herald said the talks were held late last month and on Feb. 4.

One of Rolling's attorneys, John Kearns, visited him Feb. 5 and Feb. 8, prison records showed. Rolling has been indicted but is not expected to go on trial until next year.

Investigators searched an old University of Florida animal pen for nearly a week for items Rolling said he had buried there. The search wound up Thursday and investigators would not say whether they found anything.

Sources had said Rolling told investigators he buried a large knife he used in the slayings, a pair of bloody gloves and a baggie with body parts in the area.

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