GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A 29-year-old tradesman allowed into a suburban town house to clean carpets stands accused of beating and choking to death two University of Florida coeds who lived there.
Alan Robert Davis, of nearby Newberry, was jailed without bond on first-degree murder charges after he described how he killed the two women, police said yesterday.
Investigators continued to maintain that there was no link between the killings Thursday of Eleanor Grace, 20, and Carla McKishnie, 22, and the grisly murders of five other college students last August in the same part of this university town.
"This is a separate situation," said Lt. Spencer Mann of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
The 6-foot-1 Davis, powerfully built and fond of wrestling, told investigators that he struck Ms. Grace and knocked her unconscious, then turned on Ms. McKishnie and choked her to death with his hands. Then he strangled the unconscious
Ms. Grace, according to an affidavit filed yesterday morning when Mr. Davis was arraigned.
The suspect told investigators he became enraged and strangled the two women after one sprayed him with chemical repellent she carried, a prosecutor said, according to the Associated Press.
According to State Attorney Len Register, Mr. Davis said he punched Ms. Grace once in the face and knocked her unconscious after she sprayed him with the chemical. Her roommate then jumped on him.
Authorities wouldn't say why Ms. Grace used the chemical spray on Mr. Davis, who was cleaning the carpet in their apartment, the AP said.
Mr. Davis, who lives with his wife and her four children in nearby Newberry, was picked up for questioning Saturday and confessed during nearly six hours of interrogation, police said.
Family members described Mr. Davis as a hard-working family man who deeply cared for his four stepchildren.
The women were fully clothed,
and there was no evidence of sexual assault. Their bodies weren't found until the next morning when a friend, Jason Waggoner, broke in after failing to get a response from them Thursday night and Friday morning.
The break in the case came Saturday when police got a call from the owner of the carpet-cleaning service, saying that one of his workers had serviced that apartment in the Casablanca complex Thursday, the day the women died.
Investigators caught up with Mr. Davis late Saturday afternoon at another carpet-cleaning job in southwest Gainesville.
At 11:52 p.m. he was placed under arrest.
Lieutenant Mann said the only criminal record on Mr. Davis found in a preliminary check was a 1989 arrest by Gainesville police for violently resisting arrest.
Stunned and grieving, Mr. Davis' relatives insisted that he couldn't be responsible for the killings and that the confession must have been coerced.