Daytona Beach, FL - A suspect is in custody in Palm Beach County for first-degree murder and DNA links him to three murders that took place in Daytona Beach years ago. Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said 37-year-old Robert Hayes was arrested late yesterday in connection to the murder of a 32-year-old woman in 2016. He also said that Hayes was interviewed at the time of the murders.
The women found murdered in Daytona Beach are 45-year-old Laquetta Gunther, 34-year-old Julie Green, and 35-year-old Iwana Patton. DNA evidence has tied Hayes to Gunther and Green. Forensic evidence has also linked Hayes to the murder of Patton. Investigators say Hayes may also be the suspect in the 2008 death of Stacey Gage but at this time there is no physical evidence.
Daytona Beach Police detectives, working with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office after a 2016 murder near Jupiter, used genetic technology supplied by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to link the DNA in the cases.
Capri, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Florida's 7th Circuit State Attorney R. J. Larizza and FDLE Special Agent in Charge Lee Massey, all gave credit to DNA technology in solving this case during a press conference this morning (Sp[etember 16). They also gave credit to the amount of police work that went into solving what Larizza said were "brutal murders."
“These were brutal crimes and the State Attorney’s Office is very fortunate to have the caliber of law enforcement folks that we have working these cases,” Larizza stated. “It’s not just working the streets anymore. It’s working with DNA. It’s working with technology. We are truly in a brave new world.”
Chitwood, who was Daytona Beach Police Chief at the time of the murders, gave high praise to all involved in the case. He regrets that he couldn't get the case solved during his tenure but said that those involved never gave up. "There are folks that worked on this case and poured their heart and soul into this. From FDLE, from the Sheriff's Office, from all over to try to bring closure to these families. And the fact that they were relentless, Daytona Beach Police Department was relentless, and somebody is brought to justice now."
No charges have been filed at this time on Hayes for the murders in Daytona Beach. DBPD will work with the State Attorney's Office to put those charges together. Hayes appeared before a Palm Beach County judge this morning and was denied bond.