Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Victim's Brother Talks About Execution Of Mass Murderer

POSTED: 4:16 pm EDT October 24, 2006

UPDATED: 4:50 pm EDT October 24, 2006

ORLANDO, Fla. -- An Orlando man's sister was one of five people killed in the Gainesville murders. Channel 9 talked to her brother Tuesday, the day before Danny Rolling is set to be executed.

The man who murdered five University of Florida students will be executed Wednesday. Jim Larson, the brother of one of Danny Rolling's victims, said his death is long overdue.

The families of all five students are meeting in Gainesville on Wednesday for lunch together. Then they'll make the trip to Florida state prison at Starke.

Together, the Larsons are getting through it. Their family has been shattered in the most heart-wrenching, nightmarish way. They live with mental pictures that most of us cannot comprehend. They black them out by looking at photographs of wonderful memories.

Jim Larson is not looking forward to what he'll see Wednesday, but he'll be there for his sister and for his mother.

"I don't think it's gonna do anything for me, to be honest with you. It might put one more ugly picture in my head. I don't think it's gonna help," he said.

Sonja Larson was only 18 when she was brutally murdered. Because of her love of children, she was planning to become a teacher through her studies at the University of Florida. Before her first class, she and her roommate were found dead in their apartment, not just murdered, but bound, gagged, raped and mutilated.

"Maybe when I get on the other side of this, something will change in me. But I don't imagine so. I think that the images are there and it's just something I have to deal with now," Larson said. "I miss my sister."

Larson went on with his wedding four months after his sister's murder.

"She was supposed to be in the wedding. There was a spot for her there we left open," he said. "I remember the honeymoon being good. I don't think I thought about it too much, but it was there, I'm sure."

Several years later, his wife Carla was kidnapped and murdered. He said he doesn't cry much these days. His daughter Jessica keeps him going, day to day, helping him take care of things when he can't manage.

"I'll be happy when this is all over, when all the families can pick up the pieces and move on," he said.

But Larson will probably be faced with it all over again some day if his wife's killer, death row inmate John Huggins, is ever put to death. Larson said, depending on how it goes Wednesday, he might just stay home next time.

Rolling, the state's most notorious serial killer since Ted Bundy, awaits his execution for the 1990 slayings of five college students in Gainesville. The students' bodies, some mutilated, posed and sexually assaulted, were found over a three-day period in August and September 1990.

Rolling was jailed for a supermarket robbery when investigators used DNA to link him to the killings months later. When he was finally scheduled to go on trial in 1994, he pleaded guilty to the five slayings.

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