A confessor to 6 killings, Gore’s execution is tied to the brutal rape, murder of a 17-year-old Vero Beach girl
“I seen her running down the road so I started running after her and I was hollering for her to stop, and when she wouldn’t, I shot over her head,” recalled Gore in a deposition. “I kept running after her and then she tripped and … she was trying, like, resisting, fighting me, so I throwed (sic) her to the ground. That’s when I shot her in the head.”
VERO BEACH — When a panicked David Alan Gore bolted nude from his parents’ home July 26, 1983, he charged after abducted teenager Lynn Elliott as she stumbled hands tied and naked down a long drive, fleeing a scene of rape and torture.
Her tormentor raised his revolver, shouted for her to stop, then fired a bullet over the 17-year-old’s head.
“I kept running after her then she tripped and fell and then I caught up to her,” Gore, then 29, recalled later during a sworn statement. “I started dragging her back and she was trying, like, resisting, fighting me, so I throwed (sic) her to the ground. That’s when I shot her in the head.”
Shooting Elliott twice, Gore recounted, was a “reflex, just to shut her up.”
He knew a teenage boy bicycling saw the afternoon shooting. He hid Elliott’s body in the trunk of his vacationing parents’ 1975 white Mercury Monarch and retreated inside the home, where another naked girl, Regan Martin, 14, remained hogtied but alive.
“I went in and turned on the (police) scanner,” Gore said, “I knew the boy had seen me.”
DAVID ALAN GORE EXECUTION
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Florida State Prison in Starke
Why: Sentenced to death in 1984 for the first-degree murder of Lynn Elliott
Gore’s murderous acts earned the confessed serial killer a spot on Florida’s death row in 1984, where he has spent 28 years fighting to overturn his death sentence. He was sentenced to death a second time in 1992 after a federal judge in 1989 granted him a new sentencing proceeding. He also is serving five consecutive life prison terms for the other murders.
The pretty, sandy-haired Vero Beach girl who Gore and his accomplice and maternal cousin Fred Waterfield, then 30, picked up in Waterfield’s silver and black four-wheel-drive truck, was the last of several women the two killers targeted for abduction between 1981 and 1983. Dubbed “the Killing Cousins,” authorities say Gore and Waterfield were responsible for a series of murders in Indian River County and set a gruesome standard for slayings in Vero Beach.
For longtime locals, Gore’s crimes recall a fretful era when a string of killings shattered a community’s notion that then-quaint Vero Beach was immune to such acts of evil. Gore didn’t kill all of his victims, and some evaded abduction. Investigators though, believed his murder spree showed a pattern of escalating brutality.
Gore has not responded to a written request for an interview. Death row rules allow Gore to grant final media interviews before his execution, but prison officials said he has declined.
WITNESS TO MURDER
Police were watching Gore before July 1983. Phil Redstone, a retired Indian River County Sheriff’s Office detective, led the Elliott investigation. He said he knew Gore was on parole for armed trespassing after he was caught in June 1981 with a loaded gun in the back seat of a woman’s car outside a Vero Beach doctor’s clinic. Gore was ordered to prison for five years, but he was released in March 1983, state records show.
Before Elliott’s murder, Redstone said authorities suspected Gore in the disappearance of three women. At a preliminary hearing in his 1981 armed trespass case, Assistant State Attorney James Balsiger told Circuit Judge L.B. Vocell the state had reason to believe Gore was a “strong suspect” in the curious case of three women who disappeared in February and July of that year. Balsiger in 1981 said he didn’t have anything to support his suspicions, but in court he insisted “every time someone turns up missing, (Gore) seems to be in the area.”
“It’s not in the best interest of women in this community that he (Gore) be let out on the streets,” said Balsiger in court at the time.
Click here to see a photo gallery and read details about each of Gore’s victims – the ones he killed as well as those whom he let go.
Gore’s ultimate undoing started with the neighbor boy on his bike, Michael Rock, then 15. The teen, startled by what he saw, returned home to alert his family and law enforcement. Rock witnessed the brutal slaying, he later testified. When police arrived at 3925 Fifth St. S.W., deputies discovered Elliott, apprehended Gore and rescued Martin after a tense, 90-minute standoff.
“We were able to surround the house before he was able to leave,” recalled Redstone, during an interview in March.
Gore’s March 1984 trial was moved from Vero Beach to St. Petersburg because of intense publicity. Martin, now a resident of Georgia, during testimony described how Gore threatened to kill her as he sexually assaulted her three times.
“I did what he told me to do I was scared he would kill me,” she testified. “He told me to shut up or he would slit my throat.”
After the assaults, Gore put her in a closet and left. She heard shots, she said. He then returned and threatened her with violence if she made any noise.
” ‘If I hear any sound out of you, I will kill you,’ ” Martin quoted Gore at his trial.
He then dragged her to the attic, where she eventually heard police over bullhorns urging Gore to give up. Martin crawled to a window and screamed for help, she said. After Gore gave up, she was found naked, handcuffed and tied with electrical cord cut from a lamp.
The grisly episode ended Gore’s eight-year reign as an unrelenting sex predator who admitted kidnapping, raping and killing six women in Indian River County, sometimes with Waterfield’s help.
For Elliott’s killing, Waterfield was tried separately in May 1984 at a first-degree murder trial moved from Vero Beach to Punta Gorda. A jury convicted him of manslaughter, while acquitting him of kidnapping and murder charges. He was sentenced to 15 years behind bars. After his trial, Waterfield’s attorney Michael Bloome said his client was convicted not for doing anything wrong, but for failing to stop something he knew was going to happen.
“I think the jury based their verdict on the fact that since Freddie had knowledge of what was going to happen that there was a duty imposed upon him as a citizen to call the police,” Bloome told The Associated Press then.
Waterfield, 59, also is serving multiple life prison terms in the May 1983 murder of two Orlando teenagers who the cousins abducted from Interstate 95.
TARGETED FOR DEATH
The day the two cousins spied Elliott and Martin, Gore told authorities they were doing their usual drinking and beach-cruising looking for girls, according to sworn statement given in October 1984. Gore had handcuffs and a .22 caliber, nine-shot revolver he’d stolen from his father.
“Our plan was to pick up a girl … my parents were out of town, and to take them to the house if we picked any up, and rape them there,” Gore told prosecutors during a deposition.
After a few minutes together inside Waterfield’s truck, Gore said the glove compartment fell open, exposing the gun, so he grabbed it and shoved it against Martin’s head.
Click here to see pictures of Gore in court in the 1980s and 1990s.
“They thought I was kidding around,” Gore said in a sworn statement. “I told them it was no joke and they asked Freddie if it’s a joke and he said, ‘No, it’s not a joke,’ and that’s when they knew it was serious.”
Waterfield drove while Gore handcuffed the girls together. Elliott began to cry.
At his parents’ house, Gore said he tossed the house keys to Waterfield, who led Elliott and Martin inside to a bedroom.
“We made them kneel down on the floor and put their faces in the bed, and Freddie said he had something to talk to me about,” Gore said. “So I backed out of the room to where I could see the girls.”
Waterfield was bothered, Gore recounted, because in traffic they had passed Waterfield’s sister, Debbie Hyatt, who saw the girls in the truck.
He told Gore he was returning to his nearby truck repair shop to make sure his sister didn’t stop by.
He left orders, Gore said, to leave a back door open so he could return.
With Waterfield gone, Gore separated the girls, binding Elliott’s hands behind her with rope, while he restricted Martin with handcuffs in another room. He promised both if they cooperated, he’d let them go.
Gore said he cut off Elliott’s bathing suit and blouse and sexually assaulted her. Later, while raping Martin, Gore heard a noise and walked back into Elliott’s room.
“She was gone and that’s when I went looking for her,” Gore said. “I seen her running down the road so I started running after her. I was hollering to her to stop and she wouldn’t, so I shot over her head.”
After her death, Gore felt a frenzied panic take hold.
“I was trying to figure out, I was in a state of shock and panic, you know, kind of back and forth, and the only thing I could think of was just stay in the house,” he said. “I couldn’t think of nothing else. And by the time I seen the deputies starting to arrive, I knew I couldn’t do nothing else but stay in the house.”
Before surrendering, authorities called an aunt and two of Gore’s cousins in an effort to draw him out.
Redstone recalled a sick feeling upon discovering Elliott’s body.
“It was kind of a feeling that my worst fears were realized at that the scene,” said Redstone during an interview. “And what I feared when he got out of prison was actually confronting us at the moment.”
In March 1984 a St. Petersburg jury convicted Gore of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and three counts of sexual battery against Martin. The same jury voted 11 to 1 in recommending a death sentence. At his 1992 resentencing, a jury unanimously recommended he be returned to death row. He was granted the sentencing do-over after a federal judge in 1989 ruled Gore should have been allowed to introduce evidence substantiating his claim he was drunk at the time of Elliott’s murder and not in complete control of his actions.
The time for Gore to pay for his crimes is “long overdue,” Redstone said.
“The whole case has been a source of frustration and a lot of emotions over the years, dealing with the victim’s families, and especially waiting for 28 years on death row for the sentence to finally be carried out,” he said. “The emotions have carried on for a long time … there’s a lot more people involved than just him.”
DAVID ALAN GORE, by the numbers
28: Years Gore has spent on death row fighting the death sentence imposed for the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Lynn Elliott.
29: Number of witnesses in the Elliott case called by state prosecutors to testify against Gore at his 1984 first-degree murder trial held in St. Petersburg.
$23,725: Average annual cost to house Gore on death row, based on a daily per-inmate average of between $65 and $68 a day.
6: Number of women Gore confessed to killing between 1981 and 1983, most with his cousin Fred Waterfield.
5: Total life prison terms Gore is serving for pleading guilty to the first-degree murder of five women in Indian River County.
3: Number of death warrants issued — two signed by Gov. Bob Martinez in 1988 and 1989, and one signed by Gov. Rick Scott on Feb. 28.
Source: Florida Department of Corrections, State Attorney’s Office records, The Associated Press, office of Gov. Rick Scott.