Serial killer's letters may have sped up execution
VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Serial killer David Alan Gore is set to be executed sooner than he expected, in part because he could not stop bragging about raping and murdering four teenagers and two women in the Vero Beach area about 30 years ago.
Several people have made sure the boasting did not go unnoticed. There was the Las Vegas man who wrote to Gore, an author who published the inmate's grotesque letters, and a newspaper columnist and editorial board who brought the case to the attention of Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Republican promptly signed the death warrant even though more than 40 other men have been on death row longer.
Gore is set to die April 12.
"Those letters are so disturbing and so insightful into who this person is ...," said Pete Earley, who recently published some of the letters in his book "Serial Killer Whisperer." ''Gore, actually, he talked his way into the death chamber."
Tony Ciaglia wrote to Gore and other serial killers on a whim after suffering a severe head injury as a teenager. He has corresponded with a few dozen of the murderers in an effort to better understand them.
He began exchanging letters with Gore about five years ago, receiving about 200 pages in all. Most contained in the book are too graphic to quote. In one, Gore described step-by-step how he and his cousin abducted two 14-year-old friends and sexually assaulted them.
"I drug both bodies into the woods where I disposed of them. Oh and you can believe, I collected hair. It took a couple days to recover from that. It was a perfect experience," Gore wrote.
In another letter, Gore described his uncontrollable desire to kill.
"It's sort of along the lines as being horny. You start getting horny and it just keeps building until you have to get some relief," Gore wrote. "That is the same with the URGE to kill. It usually starts out slow and builds and you will take whatever chances necessary to satisfy it. And believe me, you constantly think about getting caught, but the rush is worth the risk."
Gore also wrote about picking up Lynn Elliot, 17, and a 14-year-old friend, who were hitchhiking near the beach on July 26, 1983. Gore and his cousin, Fred Waterfield, took them back to Gore's home, where the girls were bound. Waterfield left, and Gore raped both.
Elliot was able to free her feet and, with hands still tied, ran naked from the house. Gore, also naked, chased her and shot her twice in the head. A boy riding a bicycle saw the murder. His mother called 911 and the 14-year-old was rescued.
After being arrested for Elliot's murder, Gore confessed to the other killings. He led authorities to the remains of all but 14-year-old Angelica Lavallee, who hasn't been found.
Waterfield was convicted of manslaughter in Elliot's death and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was later convicted in two of the other murders and is serving back-to-back life sentences.
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers columnist Russ Lemmon, who has written about the Gore case for a couple of years, published a column for a few newspapers in southeastern Florida on the day the editorial board had an interview with the governor. They talked about the case, the book and read Scott an excerpt from an email from one of Elliott's relatives.
The board asked Scott if he had considered signing Gore's death warrant. The governor promised to look into it.
Meanwhile, letters poured into Scott's office, many of them mentioning the correspondence.
"Pete Earley provides compelling evidence that David Gore relishes every detail of his heinous murders," wrote Ralph Sexton, whose nephew was married to one of the women killed.
About a month after the editorial board meeting, Scott signed Gore's death warrant. A spokeswoman for Scott said he had not read the book.
Gore's attorneys are now appealing, arguing in part that the governor's decision to sign the warrant was unfairly influenced by the editorial board.
Lisa Burford, who was friends with Elliott, credited friends and relatives of the victims for continuing to press for Gore's execution.
"The timing of the book just happened to work out perfectly. That is the bonus of the book, is that it gave all of us more ammunition and more fire to see this through to the end," Burford said.
Ciaglia said Gore blamed him after the death warrant was signed.
"He was hearing that I used him," Ciaglia said. "He said, 'It's water under the bridge, Tony, but I'm just kind of surprised. I didn't think you would do that."
Ciaglia doesn't want credit. He's opposed to the death penalty.
"I told him that I did not actively pursue it. That there's a lot of people — because you did some really, really bad things — there's a lot of people that hate you and they want to see you executed and they used these letters to get people's attention as to the horrible crimes that you committed," Ciaglia said.
Similarly, Earley isn't taking credit.
"The only person you can blame is Gore himself. His candor and his lack of compassion, empathy and remorse is stomach churning," he said.