Sunday, December 12, 2010

Black handyman admits to killing at least 8 women in Massachusetts

He's killed more people than the Son of Sam, but there are no made-for-TV movies about Alfred Gaynor. The African-American handyman did not even pick up a macabre nickname as he attacked and strangled at least eight women in his hometown of Springfield in the 1990s, becoming one of his state's most prolific serial killers. The scale of his killing spree only recently became clear when Gaynor, imprisoned on four murder convictions, confessed to four other unsolved slayings in which he'd been a longtime suspect. Charges are possible in two more deaths for which he's confessed: a 20-year-old mother and her toddler daughter in 1996. The deaths terrorized this western Massachusetts city as the women's bodies were discovered in alleys, vehicles and their own homes between 1995 and 1998. His new confessions came as part of a convoluted plea deal for his imprisoned nephew, who'd been convicted in another murder for which Gaynor, 44, now claims responsibility. Gaynor remains relatively unknown beyond Springfield, where he met several of his victims in their mutual search for crack cocaine. Others were low-income single mothers, often acquaintances, whom he robbed for drug money. Gaynor was no stranger to police. The burly black 6-footer worked occasional odd jobs in the 1990s, but mostly moved from one crack fix to the next, according to court testimony and files. He had also been tried and acquitted of a rape charge in 1997. In the eight murders, his calling card was brutality: Authorities say several of the women were tightly bound, some had socks or other objects jammed in their throats, and the rapes involved violence that went beyond sexual gratification. In three cases, the women's bodies were found by their children. Gaynor blames his actions on the crack cocaine he once told police was his "first and last love." He says he killed his first victim in April 1995 when 45-year-old Vera Hallums let him sleep on her floor. He beat her with a kitchen pot and bound her with electrical cords. He said he had planned to rape her, but that she strangled first on the cords. Massachusetts has no death penalty. Gaynor is serving his eight life sentences in a maximum-security prison.

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