One of Florida's most notorious serial killers may have talked (or more accurately - written) himself into that state's execution chamber.
In the 1980s, David Gore murdered six women in the scenic shore community of Vero Beach. Unlike many serial killers, Gore "hunted" -- his word -- local women, including two mothers and four teenagers, instead of prostitutes.
For nearly 30 years, Gore has been sitting quietly on death row waiting for his name to be called. What few knew until last week is that Gore has spent the past five years chatting openly in letters about his gruesome crimes to a Las Vegas pen pal.
"[I] had absolutely NO mercy. You said you read on the computer where it said one victim was fed to the alligators. That was true...." Gore bragged in one of the hundreds of letters that he exchanged with Anthony Ciaglia.
Ciaglia, 34, began writing to Gore and more than two dozen other infamous serial killers after he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him lonely and, at times, under a self-imposed "house arrest."
At age 15, Ciaglia was struck in the head by a jet ski while attending a summer camp near Dallas, Texas. His heart stopped beating three times en route to the hospital. When he emerged from a coma, he was a different person. The youth had flashes of uncontrollable rage, didn't recognize the consequences of his actions, was impulsive, was easily fixated on sex, was obsessive-compulsive and had difficulty speaking, walking, even eating.
Abandoned by his friends and soon despondent, Ciaglia struggled for years for some purpose in his life until he formed an unlikely kinship with serial killers. They lived in a physical prison, he explained. He lived in a "mental prison." Soon, he was calling the likes of Arthur Shawcross, 'The Genesee River Killer' who murdered 12 prostitutes in Rochester, N.Y, and Joe Roy Metheny, a self-described 'cannibal killer,' his new "best friends.'"
As their friendship grew, so did the depravity of the killers' letters -- especially Gore's. In often pornographic prose, the killer described with glee how he had abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered his "catches."
"If I could inflect pain, I inflicted it to the max," Gore declared, describing how he had scalped several victims to satisfy a hair fetish. "I really didn't want them to say a word...[while torturing his victims] It was like I had no emotions. I was just doing it. And you know where I got my biggest rush was really not the sex part, it was the capture. That was when I got a high..."
What makes the letters unusual is that the serial killers' words went straight from their minds to paper, without pretenses, niceties or preening for prosecutors, psychiatrists or the public.
Killer Shawcross revealed that he enjoyed choking his victims and then reviving them, with CPR if necessary, so he could continue torturing them. Metheney urged Ciaglia to contact a "local mortician" to try necrophilia.
When two investigators for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children asked for Ciaglia's help in locating the remains of women thought to have been murdered by Alaskan serial killer Robert C. Hansen, who hunted women like big game, Ciaglia's "hobby" took on a new objective. He set out to help police close cold cases.
Ciaglia's correspondence with Gore has had an unintended consequence. When the families of Gore's victims read the letters last week in my new nonfiction book, The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers (Simon & Schuster), they were understandably outraged.
Describing Gore's letters as "stomach-turning" and "repulsive," Vero Beach newspaper columnist Russ Lemmon met personally with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and urged him to read the book and finally sign Gore's death warrant. About 40 Florida death row inmates have exhausted their legal appeals and are waiting for the governor to schedule their execution either by lethal injection or electrocution. Scott promised to look into Gore's case.
The parents of Lynn Elliott also have urged Gov. Scott to take action. Their 17-year-old daughter was a popular high school student in July 1983 when she and a 14-year-old friend decided to hitchhike from one popular Vero Beach to another. Gore picked them up, drove them to his parent's house, and raped them. When he was momentarily distracted while sexually abusing her friend, Lynn bolted naked from the house. A nude Gore chased her down and shot her to death in the front yard, dumping her body into a car trunk before returning to sexually abuse his other defenseless captive. A boy riding by the house on his bicycle saw the shooting and told his mother who telephoned the police. Surrounded, Gore surrendered. Police found his other victim in the attic, terrorized but alive.
After Lynn's autopsy, her father insisted on seeing his daughter's body. Carl told the police that he wanted "to see every mark on her, where he drug her in the driveway and all the skinned-up parts on her knees and elbows, and every damn bullet hole. I want to see every scrape and every bruise. I want to remember in case I ever get soft on this thing. 'I want to remember, by God, that's what this bastard did to my daughter.' It was awful, but I have never regretted doing it.'"
Why would a convicted serial killer on Florida's death, who had exhausted his legal appeals, boost in letters about rapes and murders -- knowing his words would outrage the public?
Gore, who has put down his pen and is now keeping silent, might have provided a clue when he wrote this passage to Ciaglia:
...I don't think a serial killer really has a choice. They may be able to suppress their desire and urges, but if genes play a part, how do you change your genes? Even people who know it's wrong are powerless against it... I've never tried to hide from who I am. I've always known there was something inside of me that made me different...I'd be at a friend's house sometimes and I'd be seeing his wife and I'd be thinking -Damn, I'd like to [rape and kill] her -- and immediately after thinking that, I'd say to myself - Why am I thinking this? - you see, I'd know it wasn't right, but it was there lurking just beneath the surface, always on my mind...
He couldn't help himself.
You can read more about the serial killers' letters at www.serialkillerwhisperer.net/