Fact Check

Tallahassee Decapitation Serial Killer

E-mail claims that several homicides in the Florida/Georgia area are all the work of a single serial killer who dismembers his victims.

Published Dec. 20, 2007


Claim:   Several homicides in the Florida/Georgia area are all the work of a single serial killer who dismembers his victims.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2007]

Hey I just wanted to let you know that YALL NEED TO BE CAREFUL!!!! The police are not releasing information about this to ensure their chances of catching the killer but there has been a body found on the Fl/Ga line, plus that lady from Crawfordville, plus a 34 yr. old on tram road and ALL of the bodies are missing a head. Arms and legs. Someone that works with Ashley has a son that works for the Police Dept. and he told her that they are not releasing information about this and it IS a serial killer. This is very scary. Everyone needs to be very aware of their surroundings and don't talk to strangers or anyone you don't know. Try not to go anywhere alone.

All girls need to be VERY AWARE!!!! I know you have all probably heard about the body of the Crawfordville woman being found with out a head, arms or legs but what you may NOT have heard of is the body of a 34 yre old man being found on Tram road ALSO missing a head, arms, and legs and then ANOTHER body of a woman being found at the Georgia/Florida Line thats missing a head, arms. and legs as well. The police are not releasing any of this information due it interfereing in their case but we should all me aware!


Origins:   On 1 December 2007, 46-year-old Cheryl Hodges Dunlap, a Florida State University nurse and Sunday school teacher, went missing near Tallahassee, Florida. Two days later her car was found abandoned by the side of a highway with a flat tire. Over the subsequent weeks, her ATM card was used three times by someone who obscured his identity with a mask. Everyone's

worst fears were confirmed on 15 December 2007, when Dunlap's body was discovered in the woods near Bloxham Cutoff Road. She had been murdered.

The e-mail quoted above began landing in the snopes.com inbox in mid-December 2007. It attempts to link the Dunlap murder ("that lady from Crawfordville") with two other killings, asserting that all three victims' bodies were found missing their heads, arms, and legs. While the police are playing their cards close to their vest in the Dunlap murder regarding the condition of the corpse (admitting only that "there's evidence to indicate that this perpetrator made efforts to delay our ability to identity Ms. Dunlap"), the body of Michael Lee Gerrard (the "34-year-old man" referred to in the examples cited above), found on 4 December 2007 off Tram Road, wasn't dismembered, said Maj. Bill Bullock of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Dismembered bodies have also been found along a rural road near LaGrange in Troup County, Georgia, and in Ormond Beach, Florida (near Daytona); however, no evidence links those homicides with the Dunlap murder.

Said Maj. Mike Wood of the Leon County Sheriff's Office: "As it relates to this case there's been a multitude of e-mails and information circulated through this community. What I can tell you is a message from Sheriff Larry Campbell — as it relates especially to the e-mails we're seeing more of today than we have — are that these e-mails are a blatant lie; they are related to three alleged homicides. We have no knowledge of these homicides ... We take the posture that these e-mails are a blatant lie. They're intended to discredit the Sheriff's Office, to discredit this investigation and they're nothing more than a hindrance to this investigation. They're causing our community to panic unnecessarily."

However, while the Leon County Sheriff's Office (Florida) doesn't perceive a connection between the three homicides described in the e-mailed warning, it is now considering one of them in connection with another that was not part of the e-mail. The January 2008 murder of hiker Meredith Emerson in Georgia by Gary Michael Hilton has caused that agency to look at Hilton as a suspect in the slaying of Cheryl Hodges Dunlap (the e-mail's "that lady from Crawfordville") in Florida. Hilton was in the area at the time of Dunlap's disappearance.

Additional information:

    Deceased woman identified as Cheryl Dunlap   Deceased woman identified as Cheryl Dunlap   (Leon County Sheriff's Office)

Last updated:   28 July 2011


    Boone, Christian.   "Hilton 'Prime Suspect' in Fla. Woman's Death."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   10 January 2008.

    Corbett, Nic.   "Officials Won't Rule Out If Killer Is Still in Area."

    Tallahassee Democrat.   20 December 2007.

    Tallahassee Democrat.   "LCSO: E-mails Are 'Blatant Lie'"

    20 December 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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