Psychologists say dad's cruelty led to the murders

  • A murderer

Julie Grissom, 24, was raped and murdered. Her father, Tom Grissom, and his 8-year-old grandson Sean, were also killed. Three generations of the Grissom family, stabbed to death.

Rolling positioned Julie's body with her legs spread and hair carefully fanned onto her bed. She was discovered with tape marks on her wrists and bite marks on her breasts. His arranging of his victims' corpses would become his signature.

Rolling had watched Julie as she worked at a Dillard's department store in Shreveport's South Park Mall. Krop said on the night of Rolling's first murders, his voyeurism and sadistic fantasies escalated into reality.

"Rolling couldn't stand the idea of their family being happy," Krop said.

It would only be several months before he killed again.

Rolling wasn't hiding his anger and frustration any longer. During an argument at his parents' home, he shot his father in the stomach and head. His father lived. Rolling ran.

Rolling's love-hate relationship with his father would continue to affect him months after the shooting. In the nights before his Gainesville murders, he recorded messages that both cursed and forgave his father.

"His father had been ... emotionally and physically abusive to him when he was younger, yet Rolling continues to say, 'I love him,'" psychiatrist Robert Sadoff would later say.

Rolling fled Shreveport and took a bus to Sarasota before finally ending up in Gainesville. Krop said he was excited at the prospect of a college town. He set up a campsite in woods near Archer Road with a tent and a mattress he had bought at a Gainesville Wal-Mart. It was at this store that he had seen his first two victims: two UF freshman girls, Sonja Larson, 18, and Christina Powell, 17, buying things for their new apartment.

They were several aisles over as he walked through the checkout with a stolen screwdriver, roll of duct tape and two pairs of gloves. After shopping, he followed the girls to their Williamsburg Village apartment.

He watched through their window as they washed dishes. In his black outfit, ski mask and athletic gloves, he waited until 3 a.m. before he crept up to their second-floor apartment.

Sixteen steps up the cracked white staircase, and the horror began.

"Your honor, I've been running from first one problem and then another all my life," he would later say to Judge Stan Morris.

"But there are some things you just can't run from, and this is one of those."

Information for this article was taken from Mary S. Ryzuk's "The Gainesville Ripper" and John Philpin and John Donnelly's "Beyond Murder." Articles from The Independent Florida Alligator, St. Petersburg Times and The Gainesville Sun were used. An interview with Harry Krop was also used in the reporting of this article.

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