DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Annesah Farris never expected that her aunt's suspected killer, 37-year-old Robert Hayes, shared her alma mater, Bethune-Cookman University.
"It's been very traumatizing, in the sense that we've always had this in our hearts and in the back of our minds of where this person could be," she said.
Farris said she didn't know Hayes, but they have mutual friends. BCU officials told News 6 that Hayes was a cheerleader and graduated in 2006 with a degree in criminal justice.
"I'm very disappointed. My beloved university didn't know and have any connection obviously, but again, it just goes to show you just never know (who is) around you," Farris said.
Farris said her aunt, 35-year-old Iwanna Patton, was a college graduate who moved to Daytona Beach, worked two jobs and helped raise Farris's son.
"Looking at her friends, her acquaintances and the company that she kept, she never would have associated with him. So, maybe it was a type of luring or cry for help," she said.
Daytona Beach police said thanks to genetic genealogy technology and forensic evidence, they have linked Hayes to at least three murders, including Patton's. Authorities in South Florida arrested Hayes earlier this week in connection with the 2016 murder of a 32-year-old woman in Palm Beach.
Farris hopes the latest news will give her family some closure, and that Hayes will pay the ultimate price.
"My goal right now is to share her story. She was loving, she was caring, she was a caregiver. We're very happy to know that he has been detained. We're confident he will be charged," Farris said.