Under the Carpet

So Danny Rolling – the man who brutally assaulted and murdered five University of Florida students 16 years ago – is set to be executed in several minutes. It reminded me of my own personal connection to the case:
My ex-stepfather is a carpenter who used to work in Ocala and Gainesville in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He was one of the carpenters who helped change out the carpets in the Gatorwood Apartments, where two of the students were killed. He later told me investigators had already cleaned the ground-floor apartment, but you could still see bloodstains.
A few years later, when I moved to Central Florida, I worked with him during the summer to earn some extra cash. One afternoon, he was hired again by the apartment buildings to replace the carpet in the apartment again. I can remember kneeling on the carpet, using a power stretcher and looking out the sliding glass window into the thick forest behind the complex. Rolling was in that bush, camping out, before he broke into the apartments and mutilated the students.
I had nightmares for weeks.
—Alex Pickett