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Families to profit from killer's story

Published Sep. 30, 2005

Serial killer Danny Rolling and his former fiancee will not benefit from his writing or artwork, a judge decides.

Money from the sale of serial killer Danny Rolling's grisly account of five Gainesville student murders will go to the families of his victims and not to Rolling or his former fiancee.

Circuit Judge Elzie Sanders ruled Wednesday that $15,000 being held in trust for a series of articles written by Rolling and marketed by Sondra London belonged to the state and the crime victims.

But the state is passing on its share of the money, meant to pay for the cost to prosecute Rolling. And at least one family also does not want it.

"It's blood money, and we don't want it," said Ann Garren, mother of Christa Hoyt, one of Rolling's five victims slain in Gainesville in August 1990.

State Attorney Rod Smith said he had been talking with the families about donating the money to a new victims' park in Gainesville or for a college scholarship.

A Florida law prevents criminals from profiting from their crimes, and any money made is supposed to go to crime victims and the state.

Sanders ordered the money transferred to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund following an hour-long hearing that London attended via telephone.

"As far as I know, it's the first case in which an appellate court here in Florida . . . ruled that the money was to be paid to the state and you weren't entitled to use your crimes or your boyfriend's crimes as a source of your personal profit," Smith said.

Sanders also ordered London, a freelance writer who lives in Atlanta, to make an accounting every six months of all her receipts and sale of any letters, autographs or artwork produced by Rolling, who is on death row at Florida State Prison, about 10 miles from Starke.

The judge said a hearing would be held later about $6,000 London may have collected for selling Rolling's story and artwork on her Web site.

London, who has written three books with Rolling on his crimes, objected to the judge's order on the accounting.

Sanders' action frees up the money, which has been held in trust since the state won its lawsuit against the convicted killer and London almost two years ago.

In September, the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee agreed with the ruling of Circuit Judge Martha A. Lott that London acted on Rolling's behalf when she earned money for stories and books about the mutilation murders. Rolling pleaded guilty to the slayings.

London and Rolling are listed as co-authors of a book published in 1996 called The Making of a Serial Killer: The Real Story of the Gainesville Murders in the Killer's Own Words.

In her 1997 ruling, Lott also said the money from the sale of Rolling's art and autograph, available through a Web site that names London as the exclusive agent, also belongs to the state.

Her Web site also lists two other books by Rolling, Confession: A Triple Murder, which details his rape and murder of a young woman and two other family members in Shreveport, La., in 1989, and Legends of the Black Marsh, Gothic Fables.

Rolling, although a suspect in the Shreveport killings, was never charged.

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