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Gov. Rick Scott signs death warrant for serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin

Oscar Ray Bolin, 53, will be executed Jan. 7 for a 1986 murder.
Oscar Ray Bolin, 53, will be executed Jan. 7 for a 1986 murder.
Published Oct. 31, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant Friday for serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin, one of the most notorious criminals in Tampa Bay history.

The governor ordered that Bolin be put to death for the 1986 slaying of 26-year-old Teri Lynn Matthews.

He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Jan. 7 at Florida State Prison, near Starke. But his death warrant will trigger another appeal as well.

It is the first death warrant for Bolin, 53, who has been tried 10 times for three murders over the past two decades. His convictions were repeatedly overturned on appeal.

Two death sentences stuck for the murders of Matthews and 17-year-old Stephanie Collins, who vanished in November 1986 from a Carrollwood shopping plaza.

Collins' brother, Michael, said he plans to attend the execution with his brother and their mother.

"The family is absolutely ecstatic," he said. "After almost 30 years, we can almost put this behind us."

Bolin is also serving a life sentence for the murder of Natalie Holley, a 25-year-old restaurant manager, whose body was found in a Tampa orange grove in January 1986.

Matthews was abducted from a Land O'Lakes post office in the early morning of Dec. 5, 1986. Her car was found in the parking lot with the engine running and the driver's side door open. Her mail was scattered on the ground.

Her body was found the same day, wrapped in a sheet on the side of a rural Pasco County road. She had been raped and bludgeoned to death with a wooden club.

The case went unsolved until 1990. That year, Bolin's ex-wife told authorities he had committed the murder.

His half-brother, Phillip Bolin, later testified that he was with his brother when Matthews was killed. The younger Bolin, who was 13 at the time, recalled seeing Matthews' body wrapped in a sheet on the ground outside his house. He said he saw his brother beat Matthews with a club before loading her body into the back of a truck.

The spot where her body was found was about 500 yards from the home where the brothers once lived.

Matthews' mother, Kathleen Reeves, attended every trial. She could not be reached for comment Friday. When Bolin was retried for her daughter's murder in 2001, she spoke about waiting for justice with the mothers of Bolin's two other victims.

"We have to stick together because everything seems to be falling away," she said.

Michael Collins, 47, choked back tears Friday as he spoke about his sister.

"She was one of those people who should have lived to 120," he said, "not 17."

Bolin, a former carnival worker known as "Needles," is suspected of other murders. He and a cousin were once accused of killing a 30-year-old woman in Texas. Prosecutors there did not seek an indictment, saying the Florida cases were stronger.

The death warrant came a day after the state executed Jerry Correll, an Orlando man convicted of killing his daughter, ex-wife, her mother, and sister in 1985.

Correll's was the first execution to take place in the state 10 months. It was the 22nd execution authorized by Scott, who has presided over more executions than any other governor since Florida reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.