The Infamous ‘Ripper’ of Gainesville, Florida To Get 20/20 Profile on ABC
During August of 1990, Rolling terrorized the college town of Gainesville, Florida. The murders he was found guilty of were some of the most gruesome crimes of the 1990s in America. The national frenzy that followed the case would create ripple effects that are still felt today.
But Danny Rolling wasn't a native of Gainesville, Florida. He really wasn't even a resident of the city. Danny Rolling was a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, born in the city in 1954. But he didn't just grow up in Shreveport, he also committed his first murders in the city.
Now, ABC's 20/20 will be taking a True Crime journey into Danny Rolling's story...
It's possible that the 20/20 investigation will dive into Rolling's Shreveport history. He grew up in Shreveport, the son of a Shreveport Police Officer. According to Rolling biographies, his upbringing was rough, including abuse and potential hereditary mental illness.
After begin booted from the Air Force for drug possession, Rolling would eventually find love and get married. He and his wife welcomed their first child, but Rolling's mental state began to decline, ultimately ending their marriage after physical violence.
Rolling resorted to a life of crime, including multiple armed robberies, which would eventually land him in prison.
After being released from prison, he returned to Shreveport in 1989. In November of that year, Rolling lost his job, and in the same night committed one of the most disturbing crimes in Shreveport history. A crime that Rolling would confess to after being convicted of the Gainesville murders. The night he broke into a Shreveport home and killed three people, 24-year-old Julie Grissom, 55-year-old Tom Grissom, and eight-year-old Sean Grissom. Foreshadowing his Gainesville murders, Rolling positioned Julie's body after killing her.
The following year, in May of 1990, Rolling had another fight with his father. During this fight, Rolling pulled a gun and shot his father in the stomach and head. Rolling's father survived the shooting, but unfortunately lost the use of one eye, and one ear.
Just a few months later, Rolling was in Gainesville, committing the crimes that he would forever be known for. In Gainesville, Rolling killed 5 college students over the course of three days. Not only did Rolling kill the students, he posed their bodies to be discovered after he left. Rolling would quietly break into the residences, hide, and attack after the students returned home.
After Rolling was arrested for the crimes in Gainesville, Shreveport Police reached out to authorities in Florida about an unsolved Shreveport triple murder. Authorities saw too many similarities between what was reported in Gainesville, and what Shreveport police found at the scene of the 1989 Grissom murders in Shreveport.
Once on trail, the severity of Rolling's mental state was on full display. At one point, Rolling wanted to change his plea from "not guilty" to "guilty" midtrial. He also revealed the he believed a second personality named "Gemini" forced him to commit the crimes. After all of these revelations in the courtroom, Rolling was ultimately found guilty of the Gainesville murders, and was sentenced to death.
The repercussions of Rolling's crimes would go on to inspire one of the biggest horror movie franchises in history.
That franchise, is the Scream film franchise.
When it comes to the original Scream movie, horror movie master Wes Craven's name is tied to the movie, but he was only the director. The writer of the film was a man named Kevin Williamson, who is also known for horror films I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, and Cursed. When Williamson was getting ready to work on a new project in 1994, he found inspiration in the coverage of "The Gainesville Ripper". Meaning the "Ghostface" killer in the Scream franchise is in fact inspired by a Shreveport native.
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