Alfred J. GAYNOR
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Robberies for drug money
Number of victims: 9
Date of murders: 1995 - 1998
Date of arrest: April 10, 1998
Date of birth: 1967
Victims profile: Vera E. Hallums, 45 / Amy Smith, 20 / Jill Ann Ermellini, 34 / Robin M. Atkins, 29 / JoAnn C. Thomas, 38 / Yvette Torres, 33 / Loretta Daniels, 38 / Rosemary Downs, 42 / Joyce Dickerson-Peay, 37
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on May 19, 2000
Mass. Serial Killer Pleads Guilty To 8th Murder
November 24, 2010
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A serial killer from western Massachusetts added an eighth murder to his record Tuesday, admitting that a woman he strangled in 1995 was his first killing.
Alfred Gaynor's guilty plea Tuesday to another murder places the 43-year-old among the most prolific serial killers in recent Massachusetts history, according to prosecutors.
Vera Hallums, a 45-year-old mother of four, was tied with electrical cords, beaten and strangled in her Springfield apartment in April 1995. She was the first of several women killed in Springfield over the next few years, many of whom met Gaynor in their mutual quest for crack cocaine.
Prosecutors and police say he robbed other women for drug money, raped most of his victims and often posed their bodies grotesquely to shock whoever found them. In several cases, they were discovered by the victims' young children.
Gaynor was convicted in 2000 of four murders. He pleaded guilty last month to three more.
The details he gave prosecutors about the killings left some victims' family members in tears.
"That's all I have left to give, is the truth," Gaynor said Tuesday in court as he was sentenced to an eighth life term. "Without my truth, they have nothing."
Oletha Wells, 40, one of Hallums' daughters, called her mother's death and the aftermath, including Gaynor's confession about the details, "nothing but a nightmare."
"If anything, it made things worse," Wells said Tuesday. "We really don't have any understanding of why he did it. ... This is not nowhere near closure."
Gaynor's new admissions come as part of a plea deal for his nephew.
The nephew, Paul Fickling, is serving time on a manslaughter conviction - reduced from a murder charge - for his role in the 1996 deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Amy Smith, and her toddler, who was left to die alone with her mother's body in their sweltering apartment.
Gaynor has confessed to killing Smith, but he has not been indicted in that case.
Police and Assistant District Attorney Carmen Picknally said Tuesday they cannot comment on the status of the case, though District Attorney William Bennett said last month they expect to be "taking further action" on it.
Picknally said Gaynor's eight convictions are the most murders known to be committed by one person in Springfield history, and among the most they know of statewide.
"It's a sad occasion for the family to have to relive the torment of 15 years ago," he said Tuesday. "However, we felt it's important that the lives of these women be vindicated by the harshest sentence that the commonwealth allows to be applied in each of their cases."
Gaynor was convicted in 2000 for the murders of JoAnn Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary Downs and Joyce Dickerson-Peay. In addition to Hallums, this fall's guilty pleas came in the murders of Yvette Torres, Jill Ermellini and Robin Atkins.
Serial killer Alfred Gaynor pleads guilty to three new murder charges
By Buffy Spencer - The Republican
October 26, 2010
SPRINGFIELD – For more than a decade only Alfred J. Gaynor knew what horrors the last moments of life held for Jill Ann Ermellini, Yvette Torres and Robin Atkins.
Now their families know what happened to the three Springfield women – all made vulnerable to Gaynor’s homicidal actions by addiction to crack – in those final, terror-filled moments.
On Tuesday Gaynor admitted raping and killing the three women in 1997, and family members of Torres and Ermellini heard a prosecutor relate details that Gaynor told investigators in his confession two weeks ago.
Hampden district attorney William M. Bennett said the guilty pleas attested to skill and determination of investigators assigned to the Gaynor case since the mid-1990s.
The hearing Tuesday also offered a glimpse of the “havoc he’s caused, the lives he’s destroyed."
“It’s really an unbelievable situation,” Bennett added. “I doubt there’s ever been a defendant like Alfred Gaynor in the history of the commonwealth.”
Hampden Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis sentenced Gaynor to concurrent life terms without the possibility of parole for the rape and murders of Atkins, Ermellini and Torres.
Gaynor confessed to the murders of the three as well as of Vera Hallums several weeks ago during plea-bargaining in a related case involving his nephew. First-degree murder convictions carry no possibility of parole.
Gaynor’s guilty pleas will gain him no more time in prison; he’s already serving consecutive life terms for the slayings of four other women who a jury convicted him of killing in 2000.
Gaynor initially entered an innocent plea as a formality Tuesday to Hallums April 1995 murder. He confessed to her murder two weeks ago and is expected to plead guilty later to the murder. He is scheduled to be brought back to court Nov. 23 to deal with that case.
Assistant District Attorney Carmen W. Picknally related the facts of each death. Then Velis asked Gaynor, represented by lawyer Peter L. Ettenberg, if he did those things, and in each case Gaynor said he did.
Picknally said that on June 16, 1997, Ermellini’s body was found inside an abandoned truck at 406 Oak St. in Indian Orchard.
The body was badly decomposed, her clothing had been removed, cocaine was found in her system. Because of the state of the body, the cause of death was undetermined, Picknally said.
Picknally said Gaynor said he was walking home from work.
“Jill Ermellini was a passenger in a car driven by a man,” Picknally said. The driver asked Gaynor if he knew where to get cocaine and the three went to do cocaine.
“At that point Mr. Gaynor and Ms. Ermellini decided to get some cigarettes. They went to the store and Ms. Ermellini went in to get cigarettes and Mr. Gaynor picked up two white stones from the ground that looked like cocaine,” Picknally said.
She came out of the store, Gaynor showed her the stones and they went to the abandoned vehicle to use the crack. Ermellini discovered Gaynor didn’t have crack.
“Mr. Gaynor then proposed they have sex, she refused, she attempted to leave the truck,” he said. “He choked her until she passed out,” Picknally said, saying that Ermellini “tried a variety of methods to stop him.”
“He removed her clothes, raped her and choked her to death,” Picknally said.
On Nov. 15, 1997, at about 6:30 a.m. police were called to Yvette Torres’ Indian Orchard home where she was found dead on the bathroom floor wearing only a shirt.
“She had been found in the bathroom floor that morning by her 11-year-old son,” he said. When Torres was found she had some bruising on her chin and lip.
She had a large amount of cocaine in her system and the medical examiner listed the cause of death as undetermined and the manner of death as acute cocaine intoxication.
Gaynor now admits to choking and raping Torres, leaving her dead in the bathroom and stealing a video cassette recorder and other items from her apartment to trade for crack.
In the case of the third victim, Picknally said that no relatives of Robin Atkins were in court Tuesday, but that was because they were grieving privately.
“It is not a sign of a lack of affection, it is not a sign that their grief is not deep,” he said.
Picknally said that Atkins, who had a high level of cocaine in her system, found dead on Oct. 25, 1997, in an alley next to 19 Spring St.
“Her lower body was not covered except for a sock on one foot. The other sock was used as a gag and tied in a knot behind her head,” he said.
Her hands were bound behind her back with the laces of one of her boots.
A wad of compressed paper was found in her mouth extending down to her epiglottis. Abrasions were found on her face and neck and bruises were found on her knees.
Gaynor told investigators two weeks ago that he was looking for crack and had bumped into Atkins with another male and all three looked for crack, bought some, used it and separated.
“Mr. Gaynor ran into Ms. Atkins a while later that evening. He told her he had more crack. They went down into an alley to use crack. When she learned he had none she turned to leave,” Picknally said.
He choked her from behind and wanted to rape her, Picknally said. She was choked unconscious. He tied her hands. “He also recalls shoving a sock in her mouth,” Picknally said. Gaynor then raped Atkins, then took money from her purse and used it to pay for a bus ride home.
Gaynor is expected to be indicted in the 1996 deaths of Amy Smith and her 22-month-old daughter, Destiny. Smith, beaten and choked, died of asphyxiation in her Dwight Street Extension apartment in June 1996, and her daughter died of starvation and dehydration before anyone discovered her mother’s body.
It was the prosecution of Gaynor’s nephew, Paul L. Fickling, which precipitated the plea negotiations that resulted in Gaynor’s new admissions.
Bennett said indictments will be sought in the Smith case once the murders of the Hallums, Atkins, Ermellini and Torres are addressed.
Gaynor in 2008 provided a jailhouse confession that led to the granting of a new trial for Fickling. Fickling last week, on the eve of a new trial, pleaded to reduced charges of manslaughter in the deaths of Smith and her daughter.
Fickling had been convicted by a jury in 1998 of first-degree murder in the deaths of the mother and child, but sought a new trial on the basis of Gaynor’s confession that he had acted alone.
Bennett said earlier that Fickling hit Smith, put her in a headlock and squeezed her neck.
Gaynor bound the woman’s hands, shoved a sock in her mouth and left her body in a closet, according to the district attorney.
Fickling, who, like his uncle, had been serving a life sentence, was sentenced to a 19- to 20-year state prison term, of which he has already served 14.
Gaynor was convicted at trial in 2000 for the murders of JoAnn C. Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary A. Downs and Joyce L. Dickerson-Peay.
Gaynor has now admitted he is responsible for the deaths of nine woman and one child, although he has not formally pleaded guilty to all.
In a December 2008 interview with Bennett and a city detective and in a Sept. 2009 court hearing, Gaynor described himself in various ways.
He said he was sorry for what he did, and that his actions in raping and killing five women (those killing for which he had taken responsibility at that time) were spurred by an addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol.
He said, “I know it’s hard to understand but I truly am a good person.”
He said that he did not want to admit to his guilt in any murders because he didn’t want to hurt his mother who died in 2006.
“I just couldn’t destroy everything she believed in,” he said.
“Nothing was going to separate me from my drugs,” Gaynor said. For an addict, he said, “Crack cocaine is your first and last love.”
At a Sept. 2009 hearing on Fickling’s motion for a new trial Gaynor said he took so long to admit he killed Amy Smith and others because, “I was embarrassed and I didn’t want it to appear that I was a monster, but I came to conclusions that I am."
Springfield serial killer Alfred Gaynor admits killing total of 9 women
By Buffy Spencer - The Republican
October 18, 2010
SPRINGFIELD - Serial killer Alfred J. Gaynor now admits that his first murder was the killing of Vera E. Hallums in April 1995.
By the time he was arrested three years later, he had killed eight other women, and the toddler daughter of one of his victims had been left with her mother’s body to die of starvation and dehydration in the family’s South End apartment.
Gaynor’s admissions were made public on Monday by Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett, confirming long-held suspicions by law enforcement that Gaynor was the man responsible for a lengthy string of murders that terrorized the city in the mid-1990s. Though he was convicted in 2000 for four of the slayings, Gaynor went off to prison proclaiming, “I’m innocent.”
Bennett announced Gaynor’s admissions during a hearing in Hampden Superior Court at which the killer’s nephew, Paul L. Fickling, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter for the 1996 deaths of Amy Smith and her daughter, Destiny Smith.
“We hope that solving these cases will bring some dignity to the deaths and that that will be comfort to the families,” Bennett said.
Fickling admitted he was with his uncle when Amy Smith, his one-time girlfriend, was killed; his pleas came as he was on the verge of facing a new trial because of Gaynor’s 2008 jailhouse confession to killing Smith. Gaynor claimed in that confession that he had been alone and Fickling was not involved, and it served as the basis for setting aside Fickling’s 1998 jury conviction on murder charges.
Gaynor’s admissions to the additional homicides were part of the plea-bargaining agreement which resulted in Fickling receiving a 19- to 20-year state prison term, the district attorney told Judge C. Brian McDonald. Fickling has served 14 years of the sentence.
Fickling had been convicted at trial in 1997 in part on the basis of a statement he gave police at the time of his arrest, and Bennett told The Republican, “If Fickling had been completely truthful with police I am quite confident Gaynor would have been arrested and locked up at that time.” Seven of the victims were killed after Amy Smith’s death.
Bennett said he now plans to present evidence to a grand jury to seek indictments for Gaynor on murder charges for the deaths of Smith and her child as well as four other women, including Vera E. Hallums, Jill Ann Ermellini, Robin M. Atkins and Yvette Torres, all of whom were killed between April 1995 and November 1997.
Gaynor is serving consecutive life sentences in state prison for the murders of JoAnn C. Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary A. Downs and Joyce L. Dickerson-Peay.
In a September 2009 hearing in the Fickling case, Gaynor told a judge he now sees himself as a “monster” and has said that everything evil that he did was fueled by his addiction to cocaine and crack.
Bennett said that aside from the deaths of Amy and Destiny Smith, since Amy Smith was not a drug user, the connection the other eight women may have had to Gaynor was crack cocaine.
“There are those who say that drug crimes are non-violent,” Bennett said. “This is a good illustration that drugs are very violent. Many lives, neighborhoods and communities have been destroyed because of drugs. People commit crimes while using drugs.”
Fickling’s lawyer, Joseph A. Franco, appointed recently for the plea negotiations, said Fickling grew up in the same house as Gaynor and was always frightened of his uncle, who was abusive to him. Even during Fickling’s first trial, Gaynor was in the halls or courtroom, and Fickling feared him, Franco said.
Fickling initially told police he was at the apartment and choked Smith, but he said another man was with him and that man stayed in the apartment after he left. Fickling gave police a name, but that man was never charged and found not to be there that night.
Bennett said the prosecution moved forward with the plea agreement because his office could not be sure of the result from a jury if they proceeded with a new trial.
Fickling’s long-time defense lawyer Greg T. Schubert in December 2008 sought the new trial based on Gaynor’s confession. During recent DNA testing in preparation for the new trial, it was found that Fickling was not the child’s father, although he thought he was the father of Destiny Smith.
Bennett provided McDonald with details of the Smith deaths, telling him that police, dispatched to the woman’s apartment at 280 Dwight St. Extension on July 11, 1996, found the body of the child on a mattress on the living room when they first arrived. Destiny Smith was believed to have been dead for several days, the district attorney said. The body of the child’s mother, believed dead for about a week, was found in a closet.
Fickling, who was then 19, admitted he went to the apartment with Gaynor, then 29. “While they were there, (Fickling) argued with Smith, got angry, struck her, placed her in a headlock, squeezed her neck for approximately two to three minutes,” Bennett said.
Bennett said Fickling stated it was Gaynor who tied Smith’s hands, placed her in a closet and put a sock in her mouth. Bennett said Smith died as a result of asphyxiation either by the chokehold, the sock or a combination of both.
“Knowing that Amy Smith was dead the defendant ran out of the apartment, and, after a while Gaynor followed. Destiny Smith was left in the apartment alone with her mother, and incapable of caring for herself,” Bennett said.
Gaynor, in his confession, said Smith was alive when he raped her and he then choked her to death so she would not identify him.
Bennett, who has said over the past few years he doubted the veracity of Gaynor’s confession to killing Amy Smith, said Monday that a number of detectives have spoken with Gaynor over the last two years and they were convinced that Gaynor was involved in Amy Smith’s death.
“It’s reasonable to assume Mr. Gaynor played a significant role in what happened,” the district attorney said. Bennett said DNA on a hair on the sock put in Amy Smith’s mouth was consistent with Gaynor’s DNA.
“Based on all that, your honor, the commonwealth has a different perception of Mr. Fickling’s role in the events today than it did back in 1996, and we’ve taken that into consideration in making our recommendation today,” Bennett said.
Members of Smith’s family were present for the plea hearing, and Bennett said they still believe the jury’s verdicts from the trial were the correct outcome for the case and are upset “that that has not been maintained.”
“The family did not know Mr. Gaynor so that when his name came up in this they were completely surprised,” Bennett said. “They did know Mr. Fickling, and they knew about his relationship with Amy Smith, and so for 14 years the focus on the family had been on Mr. Fickling, and now to have Mr. Gaynor part of the situation is a very difficult proposition for them to come to grips with,” he said.
Bennett said he knows of no connection between Gaynor and a number of other unsolved homicides of Springfield women found dead between 1990 and Alfred J. Gaynor’s arrest on April 8, 1998. The women are Shana R. Price, 17, of 73 Dartmouth St., found strangled, beaten and sexually assaulted at Blunt Park on Dec. 26, 1990; Myrtle Marrett, 90, found beaten Jan. 20, 1991, in her Union Street apartment; Lisa DiSilva, 21, found strangled in her apartment at 26 Tracy St. on April 1, 1991; Corine L. Lee, 32, found strangled in a downtown location on May 25, 1992; and Celestina Perez, 24, found strangled and beaten June 2, 1995, in Gurdon Bill Park.
Details of Gaynor’s murders
Here are the women who Alfred J. Gaynor was convicted by a jury of killing and those who he has confessed to killing:
Vera E. Hallums: 45, found tied, beaten and strangled in her apartment at 31 Leland Drive on April 20, 1995.
Amy Smith: 20, thought to have been dead for a week when she was found her in apartment at 280 Dwight St. Extension on July 11, 1996; her 22-month-old daughter, left with her mother’s body, died of starvation and dehydration.
Jill Ann Ermellini: 34, found June 16, 1997, in the cab of a truck in an Indian Orchard auto body yard.
Robin M. Atkins: 29, found strangled, bound and gagged in a downtown alley on Oct. 25, 1997.
JoAnn C. Thomas: 38, found in her 866 Worthington St. home on Nov. 1, 1997.
Yvette Torres: 33, her partially clothed body was found propped against the bathroom door of her Healy Street apartment on Nov. 15, 1997.
Loretta Daniels: 38, found in an alley beside the Mason Square post office on Feb. 2, 1998.
Rosemary Downs: 42, found in her 5 Lionel Benoit Road home on Feb. 11, 1998.
Joyce Dickerson-Peay: 37, found March 11, 1998, outside an empty restaurant on East Columbus Avenue.
Source: Office of Hampden District Attorney William M. Benne
Convicted killer's art offered for sale on the Internet
November 14, 2005
Springfield, Mass. (AP) — The Hampden district attorney is furious that a man convicted of raping, strangling and killing four women in the Springfield area in the late 1990s is being allowed to offer his art work for sale on the Internet.
"Will they be showing pictures of the women he murdered at the same time?" Hampden District Attorney William Bennett said.
Alfred J. Gaynor's crayon drawing depicts Jesus kneeling against a rock in prayer with a cactus and mountains in the background.
Bidding on the drawing, entitled "A Righteous Man's Reward," will start at $15 on Monday at a Web site of an advocacy group for prisoners.
State laws do not prohibit criminals from profiting from their notoriety.
Gaynor, 38, was convicted in 2000 of killing JoAnn Thomas, 38; Loretta Daniels, 38; Rosemary Downs, 42; and Joyce Dickerson-Peay, 37. He is serving four consecutive life sentences at the state's maximum security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.
"The deaths created a great deal of fear in our community," Bennett told the Boston Herald.
Gaynor's artwork is one of 287 pieces of work for sale and could even be one of 130 selected for a show called "Insider Art: The New Outsider Art" in December at a Manhattan gallery.
The president of the Fortune Society defended the sale of the drawing and other inmate art.
"We believe strongly that in addition to the punishment, there should be rehabilitation," said JoAnn Page.
People who view the artwork online or at the gallery will not be told of the crimes the artists committed.
"We don't want to look at the worst thing a person ever did as being their whole self," said show organizer and Chelmsford resident Kristen Kidder. "We never know, for the most part, what these people have done unless they choose to share it. They're just so happy to have the opportunity to express themselves in another way. It shows their humanity."
There is no formal art program at Souza-Baranowski, but Gaynor is allowed to draw in his cell using approved art supplies he pays for himself, said state Correction Department spokeswoman Diane Wiffin.
There is also no chance he will receive a furlough if his work is selected for the Manhattan show, she said. There have been no furloughs from Souza-Baranowski since 1995, she said.
Selling and buying inmate art is not a good idea, said John Kelly of New Jersey-based Stalk Inc., a serial killer profiling service.
"By reinforcing their fame by buying whatever they are selling, it's sending the wrong message to society," he said.
Gaynor's bid for a new trial was denied by the Supreme Judicial Court earlier this year. His lawyers appealed on several grounds, including a judge's denial of defense motions to suppress evidence, and the decision to hold a single trial for all four murders.
The defense also appealed the decision to try Gaynor, who is black, before an all-white jury in Berkshire County. The defense sought to have the case moved to Boston, which has a larger minority population. All of Gaynor's victims were also black.
New trial for serial killer rejected
The state's highest court yesterday upheld the conviction of a serial killer in Springfield, dismissing key defense arguments that police used trickery in obtaining evidence and that it was wrong to join the cases at trial.
In a 42-page decision written by Associate Justice Francis X. Spina, the state Supreme Judicial Court refused to order a new trial for Alfred J. Gaynor, who is serving four consecutive life sentences. Gaynor, 37, was convicted in 2000 of raping and killing four Springfield women in 1997 and 1998 in the city.
The court also rejected Gaynor's request to reduce the verdicts.
Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett yesterday praised the work of Springfield police and Assistant District Attorney Marcia B. Julian, who argued the case in front of the high court on Oct. 7.
"DNA was a key," Bennett said yesterday. "We did every DNA test available ... The results all came up the same way: Gaynor ... Once we got his sample, we couldn't exclude him."
Gaynor was found guilty of killing JoAnn Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary Downs and Joyce Dickerson-Peay between Nov. 1, 1997 and early 1998.
Gaynor's lawyer argued that Springfield Sgt. Mark Rolland and Detective Eugene Dean fooled Gaynor into voluntarily giving a blood sample that provided the DNA. The sample was later used to build a genetic profile that connected Gaynor to all four murders.
Gaynor said he provided the sample on Feb. 27, 1998 without a search warrant because police misled him into believing that the test results would be used only to compare with blood found inside the fourth murder victim's car. Police later told Gaynor that his blood did not match the blood in the car.
But Spina ruled that police never stated that Gaynor's blood would be used solely for comparison to the blood in the car. Police do not have to tell a defendant all the purposes for extracting blood, Spina wrote.
Gaynor's lawyer on appeal, Kenneth J. King of Boston, said yesterday he was disappointed by the decision, but couldn't comment in detail. King said he needed more time to read the ruling.
On appeal, King said the trial judge, Daniel A. Ford, erred in joining the four murder and rape charges at a single trial. King said the cases shared common features, but did not constitute parts of a single scheme or plan.
Bennett said it was the first and only time serial murders were joined for a single trial in a state court. Bennett was the trial lawyer for the cases and moved for the lone trial.
Spina said the circumstances of the cases don't need to be identical for one trial.
"Here, powerful DNA and other evidence linked the defendant to the victims at the times of death," Spina wrote. "The judge correctly concluded that the circumstances of the cases were sufficiently similar to show that the defendant was acting pursuant to a common scheme and were relevant to questions of his intent and motive."
During the Oct. 7 hearing in front of the high court, Julian said DNA evidence connected Gaynor to all four murders.
Julian also cited some factual similarities in the murders. Each victim was black, in her 30s and connected to Gaynor through the use of crack cocaine. Three of the victims were strangled to death, she said. A fourth victim was found with a sock in her mouth and was ruled to have choked to death, though evidence indicated she was also strangled, Julian said.
Spina also rejected Gaynor's claim that the trial judge made a mistake in failing to select jurors from a "fair cross section" of the community where the crimes occurred.
Gaynor, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury in Berkshire County after the judge refused his request to move the trial to Boston to help obtain a racially diverse jury.
The trial judge said it would be more convenient for witnesses and lawyers to keep the trial in Western Massachusetts. The judge granted Gaynor's request to move the trial from Hampden County because of widespread publicity about the murders.
"When a defendant moves for a change of venue, he waives his right to be tried by a jury drawn from a pool that is representative of the venue where the crime occurred," Spina wrote. "He has no state constitutional right to have his case transferred to a county having a minority population at least as great as the county where the crime took place."
Convicted serial killer denied a new trial
A man convicted of raping and killing four women in a case that spread fear through the city and set off one of its largest manhunts ever has lost his bid for a new trial.
The state's Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday denied an appeal by Alfred Gaynor, who is serving four consecutive life sentences for sodomizing and strangling the women over a 3-month period in 1997 and 1998.
Gaynor, 37, of Springfield, was convicted of aggravated rape and murder. His lawyers appealed on several grounds, including Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford's denial of defense motions to suppress evidence, and the decision to hold a single trial for all four murders.
The defense also appealed the decision to try Gaynor, who is black, before an all-white jury in Berkshire County. The defense had sought to have the case moved to Boston, which has a larger minority population. All of Gaynor's victims were also black.
However, Justice Francis X. Spina wrote in the decision that "when a defendant moves for a change of venue, he waives his right to be tried by a jury drawn from a pool that is representative of the venue where the crime was committed.''
He also pointed out that Ford had considered racial issues and found "no allegation that race was a motivating factor in any of these crimes and no reason to suppose the case is racially charged.''
The justices also found that the similarities among the killings and DNA evidence indicating the victims had died shortly after having intercourse with Gaynor warranted a single trial.
They also rejected arguments by Gaynor's lawyer, Kenneth King, that Gaynor had been tricked into providing police with blood samples for DNA tests. Gaynor said detectives had led him to believe his DNA would only be compared to that found at the scene of one of the killings.
Police are under no obligation to inform a defendant of all purposes for which his blood tests might be used,'' Spina said.
King did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Hampden District Attorney William Bennett, who prosecuted Gaynor, also did not return a call for comment.
The victims were Loretta Daniels, JoAnn Thomas, Joyce Dickerson, and Rosemary Downs. The first to be killed was Thomas, 38, who was found strangled on her living room couch on Nov. 1, 1997.
The partially clad body of Daniels, 38, was found in an alley beside a post office on Feb. 2, 1998. Downs, 42, was found naked and dead in the bedroom of her downtown Springfield apartment on Feb. 11, 1998, and Dickerson's frozen body was found March 11, 1998, near a vacant restaurant in downtown Springfield, three weeks after the 37-year-old mother of two disappeared from her home.
Alfred Gaynor used to have a specialty: He sodomized women and then strangled them to death.
Gaynor was convicted of the rape and murder of four women in Springfield, Massachusetts. The crimes occurred during a three-month killing spree in 1997-1998 that terrified the town. He is serving four consecutive life sentences.
No longer able to pursue his main interests, Gaynor is now producing craptacular prison drawings like this absurd crayon/pencil rendering of a one-legged cartoon Jesus apparently visiting Arizona.
An inmate advocate group called the Fortune Society has chosen Gaynor's masterwork for its upcoming prison-art show and auction, which takes place online beginning Nov. 15.
The sex murderer's art may also hit the big time in New York, the Boston Herald reports:
A Massachusetts serial sex slayer's crayon drawing of Jesus will be auctioned online starting tomorrow and could reap the cultured killer a handsome windfall while he awaits word on whether he'll be showcased in a Manhattan art show next month.
"Will they be showing pictures of the women he murdered at the same time?" an angry Hampden District Attorney William Bennett asked on behalf of Alfred J. Gaynor’s victims: JoAnn Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary Downs and Joyce Dickerson-Peay.
Massachusetts Man Convicted of 4 Murders
May 20, 2000 - The New York Times
A handyman and auto body repairman was convicted of four counts of murders today and sentenced to four life terms without parole.
The handyman, Alfred Gaynor, had been accused of the rape and killing of four Springfield women from November 1997 to February 1998.
The prosecution said Mr. Gaynor offered the victims cocaine, then sodomized them and choked them to death.
The trial hinged largely on DNA tests that linked Mr. Gaynor to physical evidence found on or near the bodies of the four women.
Mr. Gaynor continued to deny his guilt after the verdicts, telling a television news crew from Springfield that he was innocent just before he was taken away in a van.