Florida man charged in woman's death linked to other slayings | News Coverage from USA

Florida man charged in woman’s death linked to other slayings

N’dea Yancey-Bragg

USA TODAY

Published 5:22 PM EDT Sep 16, 2019

A man linked to the deaths of at least four women dating back more than a decade was arrested in Florida, authorities announced Monday.

Robert Hayes, 37, was arrested Sunday on first-degree murder charges for the 2016 death of Rachel Bey, Palm Beach Sheriff Rich Bradshaw said at a press conference. DNA and forensic evidence has since linked him to the deaths of three other women in Daytona Beach, although he has not yet been charged, police said. 

“We have been able to take what we believe was a serial killer off the streets and had we not done this we’re pretty sure that he would have killed again,” Bradshaw said.

Bey, 32, was found strangled along a highway in March 2016, and court records show her jaw and several teeth had been broken by her killer. Police obtained the suspect’s DNA from a sexual battery examination kit performed on her body and created a profile of an unidentified man. That DNA profile was entered into CODIS, the FBI’s national DNA database, where it matched with three cases in Daytona beach.

Using a relative’s DNA found on a popular online database, police were able to identify Hayes, who was a Bethune Cookman college student at the time, as a potential suspect. Police followed him and collected a sample of his DNA from a discarded cigarette butt, which matched the DNA found in Bey’s case and two of the murders in Daytona Beach, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

“Killers like Robert Tyrone Hayes are the reason genetic genealogy is so important to public safety,” FDLE spokesman Troy Walker said at a press conference on Monday. “Without genetic genealogy, predators like Mr. Hayes will continue to live in our neighborhoods, visit our parks, our libraries, restaurants, and go to our nightlife and entertainment districts to continue to hunt for victims.”

Hayes has since been linked to the 2005 death of Laquetta Gunther and the 2006 murders of Julie Green and Iwana Patton, according to the Daytona Beach Police Department. Detectives believe the victims were shot in the head with a .40-caliber gun and all three were found naked, face down with their clothes under them or nearby.

He is being looked at as a suspect in the murder of Stacey Gage in 2008, although there is no physical evidence linking him to that crime at this time.

Police have not charged him for the Daytona Beach murders, but Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who was police chief for Daytona Beach at the time of the murders, said the victims’ family members are “absolutely ecstatic.”

“They didn’t think they’d be alive to see this day come,” Chitwood said.

Hayes appeared in court Monday and was denied bail.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg


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