Gerald Eugene Stano
The First of Many
On Sunday, February 17, 1980, Detective Sergeant Paul Crow was called to a desolate area behind the Daytona Beach Airport where two drunken college students had stumbled upon the decomposed remains of a young woman. It was Crow's job to supervise the crime scene and ensure proper collection of evidence. A veteran of Vietnam, Crow was hard working and dedicated. He had attended the FBI's Homicide Investigation School and his studies in criminal psychology and profiling made him an invaluable asset to the Daytona Beach Police Department.
As Crow looked over the crime scene, he noted the condition and location of the body. It was covered with branches and obviously posed. The victim was lying on her back, with her arms positioned at her side and her head turned upward. The body was completely clothed, and there was no visual indication of sexual molestation. Crow surmised that she had been dead for at least two weeks and, because of the advanced state of decomposition, it was not immediately clear what had caused her death. Upon turning the young woman over, Crow discovered several puncture wounds to the back, suggesting that her killer had become enraged and repeatedly stabbed her.
The young woman was later identified as 20-year-old Mary Carol Maher, a local college student. An autopsy revealed she suffered multiple stab wounds to the back, chest and legs.
Investigators had a brutal murder on their hands and few clues to follow.
On the morning of March 25, 1980, a local prostitute walked into the Daytona Beach police station and asked to speak with an officer. Detective Jim Gadberry escorted the young woman into his office and took her statement. She said that she had been walking along Atlantic Avenue when a man in a red Gremlin with tinted windows pulled up. The two quickly agreed on a price and she directed him to her motel room. Once there, the man refused to pay upfront and the two began to argue. The man produced a knife and sliced her right thigh open. Afterwards, he berated her for prostituting herself and fled the scene. The wound was deep and the young woman had to visit a local emergency room and get 27 stitches. She was extremely angry about the attack and made it clear that she wanted the man arrested for assault. She was adamant that she would recognize him if she saw him again and described him as being of average height, slightly overweight. He wore glasses and had a moustache. She was also certain that she had just seen the man's car parked at a local apartment building.
After taking the woman's statement, Gadberry drove to the apartment complex the woman mentioned in her statement. He was unable to spot the man's car, but less then a mile away he spotted a red 1977 Gremlin that appeared to match her description. He wrote down the car's license plate number and returned to the department. Anna Flowers (Blind Fury) and Terry Ecker (Murder One) both provide details, with some from the Associated Press.