Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gerald Eugene Stano

Death Journey

When they arrived at the dump area Stano showed Crow and Gadberry where he left the body and described how he posed it.   When they drove back to the police station, Stano signed a confession to Mary Carol's murder.

As Crow was finishing up the paperwork, Detective Larry Lewis approached him and asked whether Stano had confessed to any other crimes.   Crow said he had not and Lewis asked him if he would question Stano about a missing person case.  Flowers wrote that Toni Van Haddocks, a 26-year-old prostitute, had been reported missing on February 15, and Lewis suspected Stano might know something about it.  Crow agreed and took a photo of the girl into the interrogation room and placed it in front of Stano.  As soon as he looked at the photo Stano leaned back and said he had never met her.  Crow knew he was lying, but he did not yet have enough information about the case to question him and decided to wait.  In the meantime, Stano was charged with the first-degree murder of Mary Carol Maher and placed in the county jail.

Toni Van Haddocks, victim
Toni Van Haddocks, victim

On April 15, 1980, a boy, 12, in Holly Hill, near Daytona Beach, discovered a human skull in a wooded area at the end of Primrose Lane.  The boy took the skull home in a bag and showed it to his parents, who called the Sherriff's office. Investigators scoured the area for days, and eventually found more remains, mostly skeletonized, and some bits of clothing.  Apparently wild animals had pulled the corpse apart and scattered it.  An autopsy later identified the victim as Toni Van Haddocks.  Her cause of death was attributed to multiple stab wounds to the head.

Linda Hamilton, victim
Linda Hamilton, victim
    

 

Once Crow learned of the victim's identity, he brought Stano back to the interrogation room and began questioning him.   According to Ecker, Stano initially denied killing the young woman, but as each hour passed by he began to break.  In the end, he confessed and signed a confession to the murder of Toni Van Haddocks.  Crow began to wonder how many more women Stano might have murdered and began to search through all of the unsolved cases dating back to 1975. 

Nancy Heard, victim
Nancy Heard, victim
 

There was 16-year-old Linda Hamilton, an out-of-town visitor, found dead on July 22, 1975, near an old Indian burial ground.   The Massachusetts native was last seen walking down Atlantic Avenue. 

In January 1976, the body of 24-year-old Nancy Heard was found near Bulow Creek Road, just north of Ormond Beach.   Her body was posed and covered with tree branches.  The young woman was last seen hitchhiking on Atlantic Avenue.

Ramona Neal
Ramona Neal
 

Ramona Neal, a beautiful 18-year-old woman from Georgia, was found in Tomoka State Park in May 1976.  Her body had also been concealed with branches.

Many serial killers will roam hundreds of miles to find a victim, and Crow began to wonder just how many counties Stano might have traveled through in search of his prey.   After going through all of the local files, he started to look into nearby counties.  In Bradford, some 100 miles west of Daytona, the body of a young woman was discovered in a swampy area.  She was last seen in Daytona Beach, near Atlantic Avenue.  The crime scene was similar to the others, including the now all to familiar branches used to conceal the body.  In the small town of Titusville, 50 miles south of Brevard County, another young woman was discovered.  She was last seen hitchhiking along Atlantic Avenue, in Daytona Beach.  She was found posed and covered in brush.

In looking through Stano's past, Crow learned that Stano had lived in various parts of Florida since the early 70s and briefly in New Jersey.  Crow contacted the police department in Stuart, Florida and learned that they had several unsolved murders of young women in that area during the mid-seventies.  Crow then contacted officials in New Jersey and learned of at least two similar murders that took place in the early 70s.  All of the victims were young women, posed, and covered with tree branches.  Detective Crow knew it was not going to be easy getting Stano to admit to another murder, let alone a dozen or so more.

 

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