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NABBING DAYTONA BEACH SERIAL KILLER COULD BE LUCK

Police have samples of the killer's DNA but no match yet.

t wasn't old-fashioned detective work that put some of history's most notorious serial killers behind bars. Son of Sam was taken down by a parking ticket. Ted Bundy was caught driving a stolen car. Aileen Wuornos got picked up on a firearms warrant.

And it will likely come down to the same dumb luck to catch the serial killer on the loose in Daytona Beach.

Police think the Daytona Beach killer has slain four women in the past two years, luring them into his car and leaving their bodies in secluded areas.

Daytona Beach police have said little about their investigation. They would confirm only that the first three victims were shot in 2005 and 2006. Those women led "high-risk lifestyles" - they were prostitutes or used drugs, police said.

Serial killing is the greatest challenge to law enforcement, said Jack Levin, an expert on serial killers and director of the Brudnick Center on Conflict and Violence at Northeastern University in Boston.

"The serial killers that stay on the loose are pretty crafty," he said. "They wait for the optimal moment to strike."

Most experts agree that serial killers often start with victims they assume won't be missed; prostitutes are typical.

"Many serial killers graduate from disreputable types like prostitutes...to victims who are middle class and more respectable in the community," Levin said.

Criminal profiling is part science, part nuance and part gut instinct. Profilers can develop a profile from the condition of the crime scene and of the victim.

Daytona Beach police have assembled a task force of local, state and federal investigators and teamed up with Florida Department of Law Enforcement profiler Tom Davis. He thinks the killer is a personable, average-seeming guy likely in a relationship but feels as if he doesn't have much control. He might have a temper.

That profile is common, because there's a stereotype that serial killers are mild-mannered white men who act alone. The truth, said serial-killer expert Robert Keppel, is that most serial killers have only two things in common: They have some form of transportation, and they kill in areas where they're comfortable. Keppel, a retired investigator who has been involved in more than 50 serial-killer cases and written books on the topic, said he has little faith in profiles because they are often general and prompt floods of useless tips.

Police haven't offered any ideas on the two-year gap between the slayings in Daytona Beach. Experts suggest the killer could have been in jail or so busy with home or work he didn't have time.

Levin said the killer could have stopped because police were on his trail.

Or he could have been killing all along, choosing victims not likely to be linked with his past slayings.

Daytona Beach police have their killer's DNA from two of the first three victims. And they won't say whether any was recovered from the fourth. Police have entered the DNA profile into a national database, hoping it will pop up if the killer gets arrested someplace else.

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