WINTER HAVEN, FL (WFLA/WSPA) – A Florida sheriff is concerned that the couple charged in connection with a triple murder in Landrum and another murder in Florida may be connected to other murders.
In early February, the body of 47-year-old Douglas John Bowling was found near an orange grove south of Ft. Meade, Florida. One week later, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrest of three people in connection with the killing.
30-year-old Christopher Taylor was charged with Bowling’s murder and tampering with evidence. Two other people, 21-year-old Gary Taylor and 36-year-old Kristina Sluss, were charged with accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. According to Sheriff Judd, the victim and three suspects were all from Winter Haven and knew each other. Judd says the suspects drove the victim to open accounts at various banks in an attempt to rip of them off.
Gary and Christopher Taylor are brothers while Christopher and Kristina Sluss lived together at an apartment in Winter Haven, according to Florida deputies.
Investigators say Christopher Taylor beat Bowling for about an hour and a half to two hours with a skillet, an aluminum bat and his fists, then strangled him and put his body in a bathtub. An affidavit says the three then left for dinner before returning to dump the body.
At the time of the arrests, Sheriff Grady Judd said that Gary Taylor made the statement, “another one bites the dust,” leading the sheriff to believe they may have murdered others.
On Friday, Christopher Taylor and Kristina Sluss were charged with the murders of three people at a home on Landrum Mill Road on January 20.
Both are charged with three counts of Murder in the deaths of 59-year-old Francis Richards, Fred “Junior” Richards, and 23-year-old Nathan Poffenberger, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
According to warrants, the victims were all struck with a “lethal cutting weapon.”
The Polk County Sheriff later said the weapon was a hatchet.
Christopher and Kristina were staying with Christopher’s mother who lived close to the victims in Landrum, according to Sheriff Judd.
POSSIBLE SERIAL KILLER
During a news conference Saturday, the Polk County Sheriff said all four murders were extremely brutal, calling them sadistic. In both cases, the victims’ bodies were dismembered or partially dismembered.
Sheriff Judd said he believes the couple may be connected to other murders.
“You don’t just wake up one day and kill people,” said Sheriff Judd.
Judd says Taylor shows signs of being a serial killer.
“I don’t believe for a minute that this may be all the people he has killed,” said Judd.
“He has demonstrated attributes of a serial killer,” Judd said. “And we just want to know if there are other victims out there.”
And now, Sheriff Judd needs the communities’ help.
“We need to know if you have any murders in the southeast United States, where the person was dismembered or partially dismembered. Do you have a vicious, outrageous crime scene? And the victims are victims for no apparent reason,” said Sheriff Judd. “If there is another victim who – maybe they have disappeared, no one has heard from them, but one of these two individuals has been in your community. In law enforcement, we call that a clue.”
Watch full video of Polk Co. Sheriff’s news conference below or click here to view on Facebook.