Sex predator accused of killing woman near Orlando intersection a ‘disturbed individual,’ police say

James Gafford led police to victim’s body prior to arrest

ORLANDO, Fla. – Investigators are giving further insight into the arrest of a registered sexual predator who is accused of killing a woman in the woods near a major Orlando intersection.

James Gafford, 55, is facing a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Kaitlyn Emery, 29, who detectives said was a transient from Manatee County.

“This is a disturbed individual. (Gafford) committed a horrible, horrible act here,” Lt. Frank Chisari said.  “He had a relationship with her at some point and he killed her though the course of this relationship.”

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According to investigators, Gafford met Emory at a bus stop April 19 and the two went into the woods near John Young Parkway and Princeton Street. Gafford called police two days later and reported that he found Emory’s body, but detectives turned their suspicion to him after further investigation.

“The timeline just kind of matched up with our investigation, as far as when he would have been around and when he would have had the opportunity to commit the homicide,” Chisari said.

Police said they learned Gafford was a registered sexual predator with 17 prior felony convictions.  Court records show he was on supervised probation and was arrested in 2019 after he failed to report to law enforcement after a 30-day period.

Chisari said Gafford was also being monitored in April but slipped through the cracks to commit the crime.

“He probably should have been in jail,” Chisari said.  “He probably should have been in a place where he couldn’t have hurt anybody.”


About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.