E! and Oxygen Revisit: How the Gainesville Ripper Was Finally Caught After His Gruesome Murder Spree

After five college students were brutally murdered in August 1990, the entire city of Gainesville, Fla., was on edge—and at first authorities zeroed in on the wrong man.

By Natalie Finn Oct 16, 2021 12:00 PMTags
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Read part one of E! and Oxygen's two-part series here

Over the course of four days in August 1990, five college students were murdered in Gainesville, Fla.

Christina Powell and roommate Sonya Larson were incoming freshmen who never made it to their first week of classes at the University of Florida. Christa Hoyt attended Santa Fe Community College and worked nights as a records clerk for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, hoping to go into law enforcement herself one day. Manuel Taboada was transferring from SFCC to UF, wanting to study architecture. And Tracy Paules, his friend since high school, was a pre-law senior at UF.

The crime scenes were gruesome, the victims all stabbed to death in their own apartments, the women mutilated and three of them sexually assaulted. 

Despite assurances from authorities and university officials that they were taking every precaution to keep them safe, many students took off for the comforts, company and dead-bolted doors of home, living with their parents an appealing prospect once again. Hundreds didn't return to campus until the spring semester, when the terror had slightly abated.

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Because with the killer quickly dubbed "the Gainesville Ripper" still out there, no one could be sure that they wouldn't be next.

As students slept with knives by their beds and stocked up on Mace, every suspicious character was a possible killer to the multi-agency task force on the case.

And when 18-year-old Edward Humphrey was arrested and charged with assaulting his grandmother barely 48 hours after the murders, investigators thought he might be their guy. They found magazines about knives, guns and girls in a search of his home, and he'd been known to carry a knife on campus.

What he also had, however, was type A blood. And semen collected at the crime scenes showed that the killer was type B.

Read the conclusion of this two-part series on Oxygen.com

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