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Task force on killings running out of money

Nine weeks after five college students were found slain in their off-campus apartments, the task force investigating their deaths is going broke. A $941,636 federal grant for the investigation has just about been spent, and authorities are uncertain whether they will get another one, said Gary Yates, a deputy director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

Officials decided Thursday to seek a new grant from a law enforcement emergency fund, but the application may not meet the fund's criteria, Yates said, because Gainesville is in less of a panic mode than it was immediately after the killings.

That means the six agencies trying to find the killer may have to dig into their own pockets to keep the search going, Yates said.

The task force once had 150 members, though its current number is unknown. The Gainesville Police Department has 60 people on average, and FDLE continues to provide 50 to 75 agents, lab technicians and support staff, officials said.

The Florida Highway Patrol, which once had 40 troopers on patrol, now has fewer than 30 and eventually will withdraw, said Col. Gregg Dodson.

Though the task force refuses to discuss suspects, most of the attention has focused on 18-year-old Edward Lewis Humphrey of Indialantic.

Humphrey is in the Brevard County Jail awaiting sentencing for his conviction of battery against his 79-year-old grandmother.