Happy Halloween: Serial killers as distinguishing characteristics of places?

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.

Happy Halloween!!

13 thoughts on “Happy Halloween: Serial killers as distinguishing characteristics of places?

  1. It is really very strange that there have been so many killers in Florida because when we think of Florida we imagine a beautiful place with happy people. Instead there are these dangerous men. Because? Sometimes they write in articles about serial killers that life in the metropolis is inhumane and crra murderers. But were all these killers born and raised in big cities? did they all have anaffective parents?
    I am doing research to understand this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a true mystery why any person chooses to kill another person. Some sort of brain damage? Are they possessed? Money, jealousy, sexual perversion, etc., only partly explain it. Most people couldn’t fathom killing anyone for any reason other then for self-defense.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Halloween (well, two days ago) to you too, JoAnn!

    Though my own predilection steers me to sunshine and to the Enlightenment (for crying out loud, I’m listening to Mozart while typing this), I don’t deny a fascination with the shadows too. For once, then, I’ll indulge the curiosity.

    Florida doesn’t have all the murderous “fun,” though. An old hometown, L.A., yielded two serials without me having, even, to think about them – the Manson “family” and the Nightstalker (Richard Ramirez). Then, moving to my next hometown, Chicago, brought John Wayne Gacy.

    Still, Florida does seem to be particularly cursed. So clotted was the state with ritual killers, it yielded, even, the rarest of the rare, a female serial killer.

    Still, that’s not enough to besmirch the state, at least not in my mind. To me, Florida still means sunshine and beaches, palm trees and airboats, Little Havana and EPCOT, citrus and coconuts. Despite its problems, a happy place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot about Aileen Wuornos. The movie they made about her is one of the few I could not watch all the way through. Charlize Theron just did way too good of a job at playing her! A far better movie is Amadeus, one of my favorites actually, especially the end part.

      Luckily Florida has a lot of redeeming qualities, just like all of us, and even California has a few also… great movies, if nothing else.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Mediocracies everywhere, I absolve you.”

        I agree, JoAnn – what a great movie! Just Salieri’s descriptions alone of Mozart’s music gives the film immortality.

        By the way, Salieri was no mediocrity. The man had a rare lyricism. There’s a reason he was appointed Court Composer, after all. Though he and Mozart were professional rivals, they also were friends, and Salieri provided for Mozart’s widow and children after Wolfgang died. Still, it’s more thrilling to imagine Peter Schaeffer’s version of events.

        Oh my, did I blow this way off topic! Still, I agree with you about most places having at some things to recommend them.

        As you know, I live in Pennsylvania, though hopefully not in one of the creepy parts. When I was much younger, the family visited a national park up in the heavily-forested Empty Quarter near the New York border. There, the woodlands bore a long, jagged scar, evidence of a tornado which had torn through early that spring.

        For whatever reason, JoAnn, that completely freaked me out. It still unsettles me, decades later. It had nothing to do with the “storms are scary” concept, either. Honestly, I have no idea why it unnerves me so, but it does. So yeah, I get what you’re saying about trees.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wouldn’t it be strange if Mozart and Salieri could somehow see the movie and make comment. What would they say? Would they laugh or be upset? Maybe both. Historical fiction definitely has it’s drawbacks.

          So sorry to implicate PA in a way that seems negative. It’s a lovely state. I should not judge it by I-80 alone although I have to declare that the neck-breaking drive through certain parts with thick trees and deadly curves is enough to drive an normal person insane.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Well Georgia has a lot of trees as well, I hope there’s nothing hiding in them?! Especially not serial killers and their secrets – LOL!! I pray that the serial killer era never comes back, we have enough other mess to worry about, we don’t need to add serial killers to it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully you got some more last night. I always loved seeing the costumes that kids wear and I totally respect the desire to gather mass amounts of candy. For the first time in a lifetime I did not see one trick or treater this Halloween, though. That’s because I’m back in Trinidad and kids don’t do that here.

      Liked by 1 person

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