Monday, March 20, 2006
Daytona Beach on guard for serial killer
On the streets of Daytona Beach, volunteers with the Halifax Urban Ministries try to help out the homeless and people down on their luck.

On this night, they are walking the streets, handing out flyers that warn women of a very real, very deadly danger. Local police say a serial killer is out there. Since December, three women have been shot and killed. They all went willingly with their killer, police say.

For the volunteers this is a two-pronged effort. One group canvasses the beach where the spring break crowd is. The college women say they are cautious. They stay in groups.
But across the inter-coastal waterway on some of the city's hard-boiled streets, the mood is different. This is where the killer has struck, targeting women police say lived a "high risk" lifestyle.

One woman who calls herself Carol says she's a former prostitute. She says the women on the street are more careful now. They don't get in cars with men they don't know. Police say there is no connection between the killings and special events like spring break.

Another woman, Scholanda, sat alone on a darkened street corner. She told us she always carries a cell phone. "It doesn't have no minutes on it," she said. "But I can call 911 real quick." Scholanda said she usually carries a knife, but didn't have it with her this night.

We stopped by the corner of Madison and Beach streets. Just off the corner in a narrow alleyway is where the first victim's body was found. A piece of cardboard was slid behind a pipe on the side of one of the buildings. On it, the woman's friends wrote notes to her, messages of peace and love.

As one of the ministry volunteers put it, every time a woman on the street gets in a car with someone she doesn't know, she's playing Russian roulette.
Posted By John Zarella, CNN Correspondent: 9:58 AM ET
  19 Comments
John, thank you for this article.

There are so many stories in the news about the pretty-white-girls who are killed. Every murder is so sad. I appreciate that you are telling about women of different classes and races who are also murdered every day.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 11:50 AM ET
Why do these women have "high risk lifestyles"? Prostitution does not top the list of career choices for most people, so maybe they feel they have no options. Let's give them better options.

Just as good people are warning women in general about the serial killer, perhaps members of certain organisations should make a point of advising women with "high risk lifestyles" of options for safer work opportunities and education? That way, assuming they get the help they need, they'll be in much less danger and hopefully the overall quality of their lives (and the lives of their kids?) will improve.
Posted By Anonymous Nikky, London, UK : 11:56 AM ET
I'm tired of ineffective prohabitions that don't solve problems putting human beings struggling survive at risk (ie prostitution laws). If prostitution and some lesser drugs were legalized the US would be a safer place. We need to realize that God is in charge... we don't have to be morality cops for God.
Posted By Anonymous Steve Wilson, Columbus, Ohio : 12:36 PM ET
It is good to post things like this. I am currently a student in Daytona Beach and most people never see anything but the glamorous side of the city. If you get sidetracked you certainly can end up in an unfamiliar, scary part of town. There hasn't been much buzz within the local community besides several news stories but it will be interesting to see where people go from here. As stated, the suspect is not targeting tourists but it certainly can't be good for Daytona Beach's reputation.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan Daytona Beach, Florida : 1:40 PM ET
Women of high risk lifestyles give me a break!!They have all the chances in the world to better for themselves, they are not forced to be a prostitute, they do it for the money, I do not condone the violence but they put themselves in that position, they need to help themselves, we can't do it for them. We spend too much now on alcohol and drug rehab(both self inflicted) welfare for young mothers with numerous kid's. It's time women stand up and stop using society as a crutch, they can be as productive and as powerful as any man and better in some cases, but I do not fill sorry for anyone who willingly put's themself in stupid situations such as being a prostitute. Theres always college and Trade Schools to get them going and theres enough funding for women from the Gov't to help, more so than for men So get off the street instead of complain, by the way theres always the Military
Posted By Anonymous Jon Tacoma, WA : 2:34 PM ET
John-I saw your report on this on the Web and you did a great job (as usual). Yes it's too bad their is a killer out there somewhere in Daytona espeicaly during Spring Back. By the way you do a great job reporting during the hurricanes with Anderson.
karyn
Posted By Anonymous karyn watertown ny : 2:34 PM ET
I lived in the "outskirts" of Daytona Beach for many years and there was never even a concern of such things such as "serial killings"
This story saddens me greatly, I hate to hear of my longtime home being tainted with fear of serial murders. Spring Break was always a casual, fun time and now, there is concern and worry.
Posted By Anonymous Jackie Simoni Sagner Atlanta GA : 2:45 PM ET
Prostitution, that 'oldest of professions,' is not going to go away in a generation. At least, I can't think of any economic models that describe a sudden collapse of relative poverty, and to that extent I can't imagine that we'll be seeing the end of prostitution.

My point is that, while it's nice to think about eliminating prostitution, it's an unrealizable goal. Furthermore, without prostitutes and other 'risky-behavior' targets, serial killers would undoubtedly move on to new targets.

What we can do, as a society, is contribute to the urgent capture of serial killers - and to be vigilant in our awareness of our own surroundings.
Posted By Anonymous James, Reno NV : 2:59 PM ET
I am confused. What does "high risk lifestyle" mean? Is that the new PC term for prostitution? If drug dealers begin to be targeted, will they be referred to as "freelance pharmacists"?
Posted By Anonymous Brandon, Leesville,LA : 3:38 PM ET
I agree with Jon from Tacoma. I wouldn't expect anyone to feel sorry for me if I threw myself off a bridge. I know the consiquences of my actions and so do these women. They want the easy money and that's that. But Jon, please don't guide these type of people towards the military. We haven enough people in here using it as a welfare alternative.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Afganistan : 3:41 PM ET
Jon,
how lucky for you that you seem to have achieved such a perfect lifestyle (I believe they need people like you to populate South Dakota). Most girls don't grow up with the ambition to become a prostitute, some are put in that position because of sanctimonious men such as yourself, and others end up there because they weren't raised with role models to teach them to aspire to a higher goal.
There is not always one answer to cover every situation, the military doesn't take just anyone (drug charges and arrests are a military no no), and not everyone is rocket scientist material. Until you know the unique situation of each individual, better not to judge.
Posted By Anonymous Linda Helena, Mt. : 3:43 PM ET
I wonder if there would be this much publicity if it wasn't during Spring Break. It took 3 bodies for this to become public?! God forbid anything happen to a bunch of rich kids who get to vacation on a beach while a serial killer is attacking the poor and drug addicted.
Posted By Anonymous M. Wong, Van Nuys, CA : 3:44 PM ET
Are the men that solicit (or, some might say, abuse) these prostitutes 'high-risk consumers'?
Posted By Anonymous Bekah Steimel St. Louis, Mo : 3:56 PM ET
I do not understand the issue with "high risk life style". People who engage in self destructive behaviors lead "high risk lifestyles". This does not make them less human, or less worthy of dignity. One previous comment indicated these women and others in similar situations did not warrant assistance such as drug intervention. All I can say is God bless that you have never been in this type of dire situation, and I hope that you never have to deal with a child or family member suffering with this problem. I still marvel at the fact some people care more for animals than human beings. (Not to say animals are not worthy, as they are), but these women who are now at risk are someone's daughter, and maybe someone's mother. Does this even make a difference? There is a killer on the streets of Daytona, forget the rest and look at the facts. People have been killed, this person may progress to more killings and kill a "Normal" person- what then? Will you care then?
Posted By Anonymous Renee, Ft. Myers, FL : 4:13 PM ET
Linda--I agree with your post 100%!

I have to wonder if its because Spring Break that these killings were made public info. Granted, if thats the case--good job to the news warning all the tourists.

Isn't it true that the killers want publicity as well as it only escalates with time? Maybe its not just because the 'rich kids' are there, maybe the police didnt want the crimes to escalate when it is such a busy time.

I say Bravo to Halifax Urban Ministries as they are doing a great job getting the word out.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Kansas City, MO : 4:14 PM ET
It's sad that anyone of any profession is targeted by these sick people who love to kill... but I must comment on the comments.

One point was that protitutes have options. We do live in the land of opportunity, but even opportunity has requirements and not everyone meets those requirements and prostitution provides a life for them. Then again, like anything, there are those who have no desire to improve their situation no matter how hard anyone tries to encourage them to do so.

Second comment was about the military. It is obvious that many people in our country have never TRIED to enlist in the military lately. They are very restrictive. People, those are smart soldiers out there! Don't think for a moment it is an alternative for welfare. Live one day in their shoes and you will get a civilian job in a heartbeat! My son is on his way to Iraq. He is in the military by choice, but wasn't nicely asked if he would like to come along. He has orders. Orders that he follows or goes to jail. He is happy to represent his country, but don't think he ever thought of it as an easy way in life.. it is a COMMITMENT for YOU to protect our freedom for so that you can continue to make stupid remarks like "military being a welfare alternative".
Posted By Anonymous K. Lawson, Ardmore, OK : 4:29 PM ET
This has nothing to do with prostitutes or high-risk life-styles. It has to do with catching a killer before another woman is killed. Yes, prostitution needs to be addressed, but if by some miracle all the prostitutes were to disappear from the area, the alleged serial killer would find another group of victims.
Posted By Anonymous Jessi Mitchell, San Francisco CA : 4:57 PM ET
Why would this be of interest to anyone outside of the local area? We have our own issues to deal with here in CA.
Posted By Anonymous Bill Marston, Sandiego CA : 6:59 PM ET
I live in a little city about an hour south of Daytona on 95 I have heard that theres a possibility that he could find a "less aware" area to find his new victims I agree with the others If the prostitutes become too hard of a target, he would find new targets, just because its harder for him to find victims doesnt mean he'll stop, i have also heard that they suspect he is a "normal" guy, maybe with a family of his own, a nice car, good job, how are then to protect ourselves if anyone is a suspect? I believe the real issue is not the prostitutes and their lifestyles its the killer being seemingly "normal". Its easy to say its the prostitutes choice and let them deal with the consequences of their decision but it disgusts me that the one actually commiting the murders could be a neighbor, someone youd least expect. Isnt it then our fault? The normal ones? Its easy to blame prostitutes and drug addicts..but arent our own skeletons just as bad? I dont care one way or another i just want the guy caught and rotting away in a prison somewhere, no matter who his targets are hes still a killer and he deserves to be treated as such..
Posted By Anonymous Tasha, Port Saint John FL : 11:57 AM ET
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