Death Penalty Sought for Man Accused of Killing Prostitutes in Daytona Beach

Prosecutors in Florida announced Thursday that they will seek the death penalty against a man who they say preyed on prostitutes, causing panic in the Daytona Beach area over a series of killings more than a dozen years ago.

Prosecutors charged Robert Hayes, 37, with three counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of three women in that area between 2005 and 2006. All of the women were found nude, lying face down.

The shootings caused such a panic at the time in the beachfront community that several prostitutes joined together to help investigators, memorizing vehicle descriptions and license plates.

Laquetta Gunther, 45, was found dead in a gap between an auto parts store and a mostly empty utility building, the day after Christmas 2005. The following month, Julie Green, 34, was found slain on a dirt road at a construction site. The body of 35-year-old Iwana Patton was found a month later on another dirt road.

At the time, Hayes was a student at the city's Bethune-Cookman University, where he graduated with a degree in criminal justice.

Hayes had a security guard license. He was questioned then as a possible suspect in the Daytona Beach killings based on a gun purchase similar to one used by the killer, but he wasn't arrested.

Hayes already was facing a separate murder charge after his arrest last September in Palm Beach County, where he has been jailed. Authorities said DNA linked victim Rachel Bey’s 2016 death to the Daytona Beach killings. The DNA profile was run through a genetic database used by people trying to find long-lost relatives and, authorities said, a link to Hayes was established.

There were no online records for Hayes in Volusia County, so it was unknown if he had an attorney.

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