Florida Man Convicted of Serial Killings of 3 Women While in College

A jury in Florida found a man guilty of killing three women more than 15 years ago while he was studying to be a criminal justice major in college.

Robert Hayes, 39, was found guilty on Tuesday on three counts of first-degree murder for the slaying of three women who were working as prostitutes while he attended Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, the Associated Press reported.

After eight hours of deliberation, Hayes was found guilty in the deaths of Laquetta Gunther, 45, who was found nude lying face down in an alley between two buildings on Christmas Day in 2005. Julie Green, 35, who was found nude on a dirt road at the edge of a construction site on January 14, 2006. Both of the women were shot in the back of the head, the Palm Beach Post reported.

He was also found guilty of killing Iwana Patton, 35, who was shot in the face and found nude in a wooded area on February 24, 2006. The area where her body was located is now an entrance for the Daytona Beach Police Department's headquarters. All three women were found lying face down and were prostitutes, the Palm Beach Post added.

Prosecutors said that while he was in college, Hayes appeared to live a normal life but had a different side. In 2005, he purchased a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson 40VE pistol, the type of gun used to kill the three women, WOFL-TV reported.

Defense lawyer Francis Shea argued that the state didn't have enough evidence to convict Hayes. He said that the bodies of the victims were badly decomposed, there was no witness to Gunther's death and investigators never gave an exact time for when she was shot, Law and Crime reported.

In 2019, Haynes was arrested after DNA from his cigarette linked him to a separate alleged killing of a fourth women, Rachel Bey, in Palm Beach County. Investigators then linked him to his three previous victims, the New York Post reported.

Hayes was also charged with first-degree murder in the death of Bey, who also worked as a prostitute. The 32-year-old's body was found nude in 2016 and prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty in her trial as well, the New York Post reported.

If jurors do not unanimously decide to sentence Hayes to death, the judge will sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

Update 2/23/22, 10:35 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Florida Man Convicted of Murder
Robert Hayes was found guilty in a Florida court of killing three women who worked as prostitutes more than 15 years ago. Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images