STARKE, Fla. — David Alan Gore was set to be executed Thursday nearly 29 years after murdering 17-year-old Lynn Elliott, whose attempted escape ended a string of rapes and murders that shook the quiet coastal town of Vero Beach.
In all, Gore killed four teenage girls and two women. Elliott's murder is the only one for which he's condemned. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison. It's a day her parents have been waiting for — they say living for — and one they many think should have come years ago considering there is no doubt he committed the crimes and he has shown no remorse for the killings.
"For us it's been a nightmare, because I just turned 81. I was beginning to think that I might die before he went," Carl Elliott, the girl's father said.
Jeanne Elliott almost did die. About two years ago she was in a coma and doctors told her son to begin making funeral arrangements. She suddenly began recovering and she said she believes it was because of her wish to see Gore die first.
On July 26, 1983, Gore and his cousin, Fred Waterfield picked up Lynn Elliott and her 14-year-old friend hitchhiking to Wabasso Beach north of Vero Beach. They took them at gunpoint to Gore's parents' house. Waterfield left and Gore raped the girls, who were bound in separate rooms. Elliott freed her legs and ran naked from the house, hands still tied behind her back. Gore, also naked, chased her, drug her back toward the house as she kicked and screamed and then shot her twice in the head. Police were called after a boy witnessed the murder. Gore was caught and the other girl rescued.
After his arrest, Gore admitted to killing three other girls and two women and led authorities to the bodies of four of the victims. He was sentenced to life in prison for the other murders. Even though there's no doubt he committed the crimes and even though he showed no remorse for the killings, Gore managed to stretch out his appeals and remain on death row 28 years after he was condemned. Gov. Rick Scott signed his death warrant after the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers asked him about the case.
"I've been waiting for this day for years. I would've saved the state a lot of money if they let me. I'd do it myself and have no qualms about it," said Mike Daley, whose wife, Judy Kay Daley was killed by Gore in July 1991.
Daley was Gore's third victim. He disabled her car while she was alone on a secluded beach, then waited for her to try to start it. When she couldn't, he offered her a ride, raped her, killed her, then chopped up her body. More than two years later, he led authorities to where he buried her skull, hands and feet. He said he threw the rest of her body in a canal.
Five months earlier, Gore kidnapped, raped and murdered Ying Hua Ling, 17, and her mother, Hsiang Huang Ling, 48. Their bodies were stuffed in steel drums and buried in the orange grove where he worked.
Gore was arrested in July 1981 after being 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 hitchhikers, 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.
Like Daley and the Elliotts, Nancy Byer also expressed frustration that it's taken this much time to execute the man that killed her daughter.
"It's gone on so long that it's just exhausting. I'm just so ready for it to be done. I'm ready for him to be gone. He has harmed so many people," said Byer, who will travel with her husband from their home in Ashville, N.C., to witness the execution. "You have to wonder why. Why drag it out like this?"
The Elliotts will also watch on the other side of a glass partition after Gore is strapped into a gurney and has IV needles stuck in his arm. They look forward to the moment.
"He looked over at as a couple of times in the trials," Carl Elliott said. "And if we can make eye contact with him in there, it would be great. I'd like to."