Criminal Minds Wiki

I assure you I am not a salivating ogre. Granted ... time's past; the dark era of long ago - Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde did strike up & down the corridors of insanity.

Daniel Harold "Danny" Rolling, a.k.a. "The Gainesville Ripper", was an American ephebophilic and necrophilic serial/spree killer, serial rapist, one-time family annihilator, and one-time bank robber, who terrorized Florida in the 1990s.


Rolling's parents James and Claudia married when Claudia was nineteen, and she became pregnant with Rolling two weeks later, much to James's disgust. He and the rest of his family were abused by James, who would tell Rolling (who was the subject of most of the abuse) ever since he was born that he was an unwanted child. In one instance, James pinned his son to the ground, handcuffed him, and had his coworkers at the local police department take him away, all because he was embarrassed by him. Rolling's mother Claudia tried several times to leave James, but always returned. In his teenage and young adult years, Rolling committed several robberies in neighboring states, for which he was arrested. He was also caught spying on a cheerleader dressing up. In May 1990, after years of abuse, Rolling attacked his father during a family argument. While hoping to kill him, the attack failed, but James lost an eye and an ear.


On the night of August 24, 1990, Danny broke into the apartment of college students Sonja Larson and Christina Powell. There, he found Powell asleep on the couch but did not attack her at first. Instead, he proceeded upstairs and stabbed Larson to death. Afterwards, he returned to Powell and raped her before stabbing her five times in the back. He then posed Powell and Larson's bodies in provocative positions before leaving the apartment. A day later, Rolling broke into the apartment of Christa Hoyt by prying open a sliding glass door with his knife and a screwdriver. Though she was not home, Rolling waited for her in the living room. When Hoyt arrived, Rolling attacked her from behind and subdued her, then raped and stabbed her. His stabs were so violent that her heart ended up being ruptured. Afterwards, he decapitated her body and posed the head so it would face the body. Two days later, Rolling broke into the apartment of Tracy Paules with the exact same method as before. When inside, Rolling found Manny Taboada, who was appointed by Tracy to be a bodyguard due to the string of murders, asleep. He fought with him and eventually killed him. Paules heard the struggle and went to Taboada's bedroom, saw Rolling, and attempted to barricade herself in her room. However, Rolling managed to break inside and raped her before stabbing her three times in the back.

Arrest and Execution[]

"There is much I'd like to say, Your Honor, about our world and beliefs. However, I feel whatever I might have to say is overshadowed by the suffering I've caused. I regret with all my heart what my hand has done. I have taken what I cannot return. If only I could bend back the hands of that ageless clock and change the past. Ah, but alas, I am not the keeper of time, only a small part of history and the legacy of man's fall from grace. I'm sorry, Your Honor."

During the investigation, police already identified a prime suspect, a mentally ill college student named Edward Humphrey, who attended the University of Florida. Rolling was eventually arrested for burglary and his tools were matched to marks left at the crime scenes. When investigating his camp, which was located near the apartment complexes frequented by the victims, police discovered country songs made by Rolling and audio diaries alluding to the murders. He was then charged in November 1991 and Humphrey was released. After his arrest, Rolling was considered to be the prime suspect in an unsolved triple homicide in Shreveport, which was very similar to the Gainesville murders. In the triple homicide, the Grissom family had been attacked in their home as they were preparing for dinner. One of the victims, Julie Grissom, had her body mutilated, cleaned and posed. Rolling never confessed to the Grissom killings but wrote about the case using information that only the killer would know. Four years later, Rolling was brought to trial and claimed that he only wanted to become a superstar, similar to fellow serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy. Rolling pleaded guilty to all of the charges filed against him and was sentenced to death on each count. He was executed by lethal injection on October 25, 2006, aged 52.


In 1996, the iconic American slasher film Scream was released, partly inspired by Rolling's killing spree. Elements of the movie also tried to satirize tropes through out horror movies. The film was widely popular and has become a cult classic, spawning a massive continued franchise, but controversy has widely surrounded its level of violence and terror in its content. The MPAA long disagreed with director Wes Craven on censorship before the film was released, and the opening murder scene has been played at lectures on violent media traumatizing and influencing underage viewers.

Modus Operandi[]

Rolling usually targeted brunette, brown-eyed, petite, female, Caucasian college students. Attacking them in their apartments, he would tape their mouths shut and also tape their wrists, then cut off their clothing, rape them, and have them lie down on the floor face-down, to which he would stab them to death in the back with a U.S. Marine Corps K-Bar knife. Afterwards, he would pose his victims in sexually provocative positions. In the case of Christa Hoyt, he decapitated her and left her severed head in the refrigerator to increase the shock of whoever found her. Rolling was also not hesitant in attacking other victims as well, although these random victims weren't raped and posed as the others were.

Known Victims[]


  • Unspecfied dates in 1977: Unnamed woman (accidentally killed in a car crash)
  • 1989:
    • November 4, Shreveport, Louisiana: The Grissom family
      • William Grissom, 55
      • Julie Grissom, 24 (William's daughter; was also mutilated and bit repeatedly; posed her body post-motem)
      • Sean Grissom, 8 (Julie's daughter and William's grandson)
  • 1990:
    • August 24, Gainesville, Florida: Sonja Larson and Christina Powell:
      • Sonja Larson, 18 (tied up, stabbed repeatedly in the chest and arms, and slashed her left thigh; wasn't raped; engaged in necrophilia with her corpse)
      • Christina Powell, 17 (tied up, raped, and stabbed five times in the back)
    • August 25, Gainesville, Florida: Christa Leigh Hoyt, 18 (tied up, raped, and stabbed in the back and heart; tore open her torso, cut off her nipples, and decapitated post-mortem)
    • August 27, Gainesville, Florida: Manuel Taboada and Tracy Paules:
      • Manuel "Manny" R. Taboada, 23 (incidental; stabbed repeatedly in the chest, arms, hands, legs, and face; his body wasn't posed afterwards)
      • Tracy Inez Paules, 23 (tied up, raped, and stabbed three times in the back)


  • Unspecified date in 1976, Mississippi: An unspecified armed robbery
  • 1979:
    • May 25, Montgomery, Alabama: A Winn Dixie Supermarket ($800 was stolen)
    • May 29, Columbus, Georgia: A Winn Dixie Supermarket ($956 was stolen)
  • Unspecified date in 1980, Alabama: An unspecified robbery
  • July 22, 1985, Clinton, Mississippi: A Kroger supermarket ($290 was stolen)
  • December 24, 1989 unspecified location: A home invasion ($30, a bottle of whisky, and a .38 caliber revolver were stolen)
  • 1990:
    • June 2, unspecified location: A home invasion (two handguns and identification papers were stolen)
    • June 12, unspecified location: A Westwood United Superstore ($1,661 was stolen)
    • June 30, unspecified location: The above Westwood United Superstore ($2,001 was stolen)
    • August: Christopher Osborne (robbed and stole his car only)
    • September 1-2, Tampa, Florida: A Tampa Sav-n-Pack (an unspecified amount of cash was stolen)
  • Unspecified date and location in 1992: An unspecified bank robbery


  • Unspecified date in 1977:
    • Omatha Ann Holka and her unnamed lover (both assaulted):
      • Omatha Ann Holka (his wife)
      • Omatha's unnamed lover
    • Unnamed woman (raped only)
  • November 1980, unspecified location: Unnamed girl (intended to rape)
  • 1990:
    • May 18, Shreveport, Louisiana: James Harold Rolling, 59 (his father; attempted, but survived; was non-fatally shot in the stomach and the head; lost an eye and an ear as a result of the attack)
    • September 8, Ocala, Florida: Randy Wilson (held at gunpoint during a supermarket robbery)
  • Unspecified date in 1991, Hillsborough County, Florida: Unnamed police officer (assaulted)

On Criminal Minds[]

  • Season Six
    • "The Stranger" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Rolling seems to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Greg Phinney - Both were serial rapists and serial/spree killers who had strenuous family lives, spied on women, were arrested for petty crimes prior to their killings, targeted female brunette college students, broke into their apartments and stabbed them to death with a knife, and were given nicknames for their crimes. Interestingly enough, Rolling was the inspiration for Ghostface, the fictional killer in the Scream franchise, which was vaguely referenced during the episode.
  • Season Eight
    • "The Gathering" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Rolling seems to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Mark Jackson - Both were serial killers who were abused by their fathers (a stepfather in Jackson's case), were active in two states (one of which was Florida), targeted women, stabbed them to death with a knife in their homes after binding them (though Jackson only binded one victim), mutilated some of them (Jackson cut out most of his victims' tounges, while Rolling decapitated one victim), and in one attack they killed an incidental male victim before killing the female who unsuccessfully tried to hide from them. Also, the way Rolling kept audio diaries of his crimes is somewhat similar to how Jackson found his victims in stories and blogs. And Rolling's desire to become infamous like Ted Bundy could be a nod to how Jackson used Peter Harper's stories as a basis for his later crimes.
  • Season Eleven
    • "Tribute" - While not directly mentioned, a marker denoting to an infamous serial killer seen on Reid's map of infamous serial killers by location could be seen pointing to Gainesville's approximate location, possibly as a reference to Rolling.