Often times when I mention the town of Gainesville, Florida, which is roughly two hours north of Orlando, it never fails that someone will mention Ted Bundy and his infamous rampage. Sometimes they will also mention “that other serial killer.”
They are of course referring to Danny Rolling but the name just doesn’t seem to readily come to mind as easily.
What’s uncanny is that in truth it was Danny Rolling who terrorized Gainesville. Ted Bundy terrorized Tallahassee. Undoubtedly, the confusion comes in because their crimes were so similar in so many ways. Both targeted young pretty females, primarily students. Ted Bundy in and around Florida State University and Danny Rolling in and around the University of Florida.
Even though the settling minute details may tend to land slightly askew, sensational stories of this ilk aren’t easily forgotten. For instance, no one forgets that both still took place in Florida. What’s a few miles difference?
Palm trees, bright sun, beaches, swamps, oranges, Disney World, Miami, Daytona, and an occasional hurricane still do not serve to salvage Florida’s reputation for being a place where a lot of weird, strange, freaky, insane stuff happens. Utah wants to catch up but they still have a long way to go to meet Florida’s level of notoriety when it comes to crazy.
My fiancé and I watch a lot of true crime shows and we’re always amazed at how many involve some kind of Florida connection. Even if the crime wasn’t actually committed in Florida, someone involved has ties to Florida that are significant enough for it to be mentioned in the show.
Even the fact that Gainesville is the birthplace of Tom Petty doesn’t serve to save it from the tarnish left behind by Danny Rolling–or Ted Bundy–depending who you ask. Sad too as it seems like a lovely and quiet university town. It just defies all logic.
An Implausible Theory of Trees
Then again, whenever I’ve driven through Gainesville I’ve taken note of the vast amount of trees that are to be found there. Places that have a lot of trees I just find rather creepy and unsettling–like specific sections of Pennsylvania.
Just what are those trees hiding? That’s what I want to know.
Now that I think about it, Wisconsin has a lot of trees as well and no matter how much cheese and beer they make it will not erase the stank of Jeffrey Dahmer from Milwaukee.
It’s been a while since I visited the state of Washington but I too remember it having a lot of thick trees. When mentioning Washington’s Green River it’s impossible for my mind to not jump to Gary Ridgway, “The Green River Killer.”
Perhaps trees have nothing to do with it at all but then I think of how the Nazis liked to hide their concentration camps in thick forests full of trees.
New York City has had numerous serial killers and although the area was once home to a whole lot of trees those have long been replaced with a concrete jungle full of buildings. California has plenty of trees in the far north but mostly sagebrush and barren land in the rest of the state–it too has had numerous serial killers.
So, perhaps I’m I way off base with the tree thing but I still find too many trees to be completely unsettling.
Hope everyone is doing well. I’ve been traveling a lot and quite busy! I should be in one spot for the time being though.