Man accused in Daytona Beach serial killings appears in court

Robert Hayes faces 3 first-degree murder charges

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – An accused serial killer linked to the deaths of three women killed in Daytona Beach appeared virtually for a court hearing Friday, less than month before his trial is set to begin.

Robert Hayes is charged with the deaths of the women whose bodies were found in remote areas around Daytona Beach between 2005 and 2006, according to Daytona Beach police. The murder trial for Hayes is set to begin next month.

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The court hearing Friday discussed several motions ahead of his trial. Hayes appeared virtually from the court after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. The judge granted a motion to not discuss Hayes’ employment at a restaurant and granted another motion that would not allow anything related to his Facebook account being used during the trial unless it is relevant.

The judge did deny a motion regarding a toxicology report for one of the victims, allowing the report to be presented during the trial. He also ruled that during the trial the words “serial killer” or “serial murder” is not to be used.

Hayes was arrested in Palm Beach County in 2016 on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Rachel Elizabeth Bey, who was found strangled and sexually battered on the side of a road in 2016, according to authorities.

At the time of that arrest, officials said they were working to connect Hayes to the deaths of Laquetta Gunter, Julie Green and Iwana Patton, who were shot and killed in Daytona Beach a decade prior.

Authorities said DNA evidence from crime scenes run through genealogy sites eventually linked Hayes, who was a student at Bethune-Cookman University at the time of the slayings, to the deaths of Gunter, Green and Patton. Police said the women were fatally shot when they got into a car with a stranger and their bodies were dumped in a secluded area.

Hayes is now facing three first-degree murder charges in connection with their deaths. State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in 2019 his office plans to seek the death penalty in those cases.

The trial is set to begin Feb. 7.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.