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Prostitutes help police search for serial killer


Published: Sat, March 18, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


The threat doesn't seem to bother many students on spring break.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Prostitutes on some of Daytona's roughest streets have started memorizing license plate numbers and talking with investigators as rumors spread of a serial killer in their midst.
Three women who police say led "high-risk lifestyles" have turned up dead since December, each shot after getting into a car in a run-down neighborhood not far from the city's popular beaches and tourist bars.
Police have no suspects, but they don't believe the thousands of college students crowding the area for spring break are at any special risk.
"These women were not tourists; they were residents," police Capt. Brian Skipper said.
According to authorities, one victim had a police record for prostitution, and two had arrests for drug possession and battery. Police have released few other details, including whether there was any evidence the victims were sexually assaulted.
The first body was discovered the day after Christmas. Laquetta Gunther, 45, had been shot and her body wedged into a gap between an auto parts store and a utility building. Three weeks later, Julie Green, 34, was found dead at a construction site. The body of Iwana Patton, 35, turned up Feb. 24 on a dirt road.
Still having fun
On the beach, students in the city for spring break said they didn't feel particularly threatened but were still being careful to travel in groups.
"It's not going to stop us from having a good time," said Sarah Bates, 20, a student at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., who was tanning with friends.
Prostitutes in the area where the women disappeared have been cooperating with the 10-member team investigating the shootings and patrolling the crime-infested areas "because they know what this means," Skipper said.
Prostitutes are often targeted by serial killers because they live on the fringes of society, said Bryan Byers, a criminal justice professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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