VERO BEACH, Fla. — Former prosecutor Bob Stone remembers standing next to serial killer David Alan Gore in a Florida orange grove while authorities dug up two of his six victims.
As investigators unearthed two metal drums containing the dismembered remains, Stone said Gore smirked as if to say, "Yeah, this is my work." Gore is scheduled to be executed Thursday for murdering 17-year-old Lynn Elliott on July 26, 1983, a sentence many say is long overdue.
"I looked in his eyes. If the devil had eyes, that's what they'd look like. They were red in the center. It was like a fire had come out of his eyes. You could see all the way through 'em," Stone said. "That was the strangest sight I ever saw. If there is a human that's got the devil in him, he's it."
Stone won't get many arguments from people who lived in Vero Beach in the early 1980s when Gore and his cousin, Fred Waterfield, committed a series of horrific rapes and murders. They shook the trust of this quiet coastal city that's best known as the former spring training site of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"He's an animal. A terrible animal," said Carl Elliott, 81, whose daughter was Gore's sixth known and final victim.
"He's worse than an animal. He was an evil monster," Jeanne Elliott, Lynn's mother, replied as the now divorced couple sat at his kitchen table with a photo of the girl she lovingly describes as a young Farrah Fawcett.
"He's the devil's seed to begin with," Carl Elliott added.
Elliott remembers seeing his daughter's body immediately after the murder. He wanted the image of the injuries seared into his memory so he would never change his mind about wanting Gore to die.
"I said 'I'm going to go in and I'm going to look at her body and I'm going to see every mark on her.' I said, 'If I ever get soft and really feel that Gore shouldn't be executed, I want to remember those marks, and those gunshot wounds.' I looked at every one. I saw the skin marks on her knees from where he drug her off to the side and then shot her," Elliott said, his voice slow and filled with a deep anger. "I wanted to remember that and I do."
Gore and Waterfield hunted women and girls to satisfy sick urges. Friends and relatives of their victims have for years called for Gore's execution, wondering why it has taken so long for the sentence to be carried out. Gore admitted to killing Lynn Elliott, confessed to five other murders and led authorities to the remains of four victims. There is no doubt he committed the crimes. And letters Gore wrote to Tony Ciaglia of Las Vegas, recently published in the Pete Earley book "Serial Killer Whisperer," leave no doubt that Gore has no remorse. If anything, he still gets pleasure thinking about his crimes.
His death sentence is for Elliott's murder. She and a 14-year-old friend were hitchhiking to Wabasso Beach. While she had her own car, the tire treads were thin and her father wouldn't let her drive it until he could get new ones put on. He wanted her to be safe.
Waterfield and Gore picked the girls up.
Back at Gore's parents' house, the girls were bound in separate rooms. Waterfield left.
Elliott freed her feet from the ropes as Gore raped her friend. She ran naked from the house, hands tied behind her. Gore, also naked, chased her, caught her and started dragging her along the dirt driveway back toward the house. She kicked and screamed. He pulled her to a palm tree and shot her twice in the head. A boy riding his bike saw the killing, rode home and his mother called 911. Police arrived at the house and saw blood dripping from the trunk of Gore's mother's car.
Gore at first tried to divert officers by calling 911 and reported a girl being chased through the groves. He eventually surrendered. Police searching the house found the 14-year-old bound naked in the scorching hot attic.
While still haunted by the murder, the Elliotts take comfort in knowing that if not for their daughter's attempt to escape, her friend also would've been killed and Gore would've continued hunting for victims.
"She really was a hero. She was, and we know that," said Carl Elliott. "She did her part."
Lee Martin knows, too. Her daughter was the girl who was rescued.
"I'm lucky my daughter survived. I'm so grateful," Martin said through tears. "How Lynn ever managed to escape, only God knows. The lacerations around her ankles! How did that girl get out of that? Unbelievable. Her ankles were raw from the rope around them. Oh my God, the pictures we had to look at were horrendous, but if Lynn had not escaped my daughter would not be alive today. And who knows how many others?"
The killing began in February 1981. Gore, an auxiliary Indian River sheriff's deputy, flashed his badge and got Ying Hua Ling, 17, into his car and drove to her house in a remote area among orange groves. Her mother, Hsiang Huang Ling, 48, was home, so he kidnapped her, too. Gore later described how the mother, tied to a tree, slowly choked to death while he and his cousin raped her daughter. Their body parts were stuffed into steel drums — one drum contained three arms, the other one, Stone said. Their remains were the ones uncovered as Stone watched.
Five months later, Gore drove down Route A1A and spotted Judy Kay Daley on secluded Round Island Beach. He disabled her car and waited. He watched as Daley, 35, couldn't start the car and offered to help. He later called her relatives when he realized the California woman was supposed to pick up her daughters at another beach and people might start looking for her. He said she ran out of gas at Wabasso Beach 15 miles to the north and he was helping her.
"I drove all the way up to Wabasso and I couldn't find the car," said Paul Schwey, Daley's brother-in-law. "I thought, 'Well, she said something about going down to Round Island, I'll go down there.' I saw the car sitting there and looked around and didn't see her ... I popped the hood up and the first thing I saw was the coil wire pulled and thought, 'Oh my God! Something's bad here.'"
A search began, but no trace of Daley was found. Gore became a suspect in the disappearance — he was seen near the beach and Daley's hair was found in his truck — but there wasn't enough evidence to charge him. Bonnie Schwey, Paul's wife, is the one who took the call from Gore.
"Of course I'm thanking him for his kindness on the telephone for calling," said Schwey, who still thinks about how Daley wanted her to join her that day. "It could have been me, too ... If I had gone, we both could have been killed. Or if I had gone, maybe he wouldn't have messed with two. That bothered me for a long time."
Days later, Gore was found in the back seat of a woman's car. He was shirtless and had a cocktail in one hand and a gun in the other. He also had handcuffs, rope and a police scanner. Gore was sentenced to five years in prison, though he was paroled and served only about a year-and-a-half. He soon began killing again.
In May 1983, Gore and Waterfield picked up two 14-year-old hitchikers, Barbara Ann Byer and Angelica LaVallee. The girls were raped, killed and dismembered. While Gore says Waterfield was his partner throughout the killing spree, this was the only case that earned Waterfield a murder conviction. He is serving back-to-back life sentences.
Nancy Byer, Barbara's mother, described her daughter as a confident, gifted student who loved to dance and had a wide variety of friends. She laughed, remembering how Barbara was always bringing home stray animals. She said her daughter wasn't the type to just take off and not come home, but, like other kids who feel fearless at that age, she made a bad decision by hitchhiking.
"She was 14 years old. Kids do silly things," Byer said. "She was in the wrong place. They were the ones that went out hunting. They picked them up like prey."
Like the Elliotts, Byer wonders if Barbara would have had children and where her life would be now.
"We miss her terribly. They'll always be that age that she died in your mind," Byer said.Comment on this story
LaVallee's father, Richard, carried the guilt of his daughter's death to his grave, blaming himself even though he shouldn't have, said his widow, Gerri LaVallee. They met and married after the murder.
"A daddy always wants to protect his daughter," said LaVallee, who believes the toll of the murder contributed to his diminishing health and his death in 1997. "He never really could accept the fact that it wasn't his fault."
In a letter to Gov. Rick Scott pleading for Gore's execution, LaVallee said her husband's last words to her were, "Don't let Angel be forgotten."