NOTE: If you don’t want to read the gruesome details of the murder of Gloria Gomez as described in court documents, skip the italicized text in the center of the story.
When he placed an ad for pen pals on the Internet, William Coday conveniently forgot to mention one thing: that he was a twice-convicted murderer sitting on Florida’s death row. “Hi, I’m Bill,” he wrote. “I’m a compassionate, 6’2” 200 lbs athletic guy who enjoys Mediterranean food, the poetry of Keats and Kavafy and baroque music.” Most people know that death row prisoners try to come across as sensitive, high-intelligent achievers. Their literary and artsy act attracts the ladies, the lawyers, and the money.
What Bill Coday left out is all in the court records.
“When [Gloria Gomez] told [Coday] that she did not love him in the manner that he had thought and that she had to get her things from his apartment, he flew into a rage and punched her. He then picked up a hammer and struck her, causing her to fall. While in the process of striking her again, he lost his balance and fell on top of her. She managed to grab the hammer out of his hand. However, he found another hammer and continued striking her. Coday then went to the kitchen, retrieved a knife, and began stabbing her. Finally, he drove the knife into her throat and held it there until she died. The cause of death was multiple blunt and sharp force trauma injuries.
“According to Dr. Eroston Price, the Associate Broward County Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy, there were 144 wounds inflicted on her, fifty-seven of which were blunt force trauma injuries consistent with being struck by the flat and claw side of a hammer. The remaining eighty-seven wounds were sharp force wounds consisting of forty-one stab wounds (i.e., the wounds were deeper than they were long) and forty-six incise wounds (i.e., the wounds were longer than they were deep). She had multiple defensive wounds on the palms of her hands…”
According to the Medical Examiner, Gloria was alive during the entire assault, until the final thrust of the knife into her throat.
Gloria Gomez had come to Ft. Lauderdale from Colombia. She met Coday, twice divorced, at the Broward County Library as she was researching her immigration status. He worked there as a foreign languages librarian and impressed her with his command of Spanish and his willingness to help her. According to a 200-page confession he later wrote, he was more interested in her body than her mind but he told her he loved her.
For nearly a year, Coday and Gloria had an on-again, off-again relationship. Finally, she’d had enough of his controlling behavior and left him. For a month, he stalked her, but was unable to get her alone. He later stated that he spent that month planning how to kill her. Since she was ignoring his requests to get together, Coday sent a message through a friend telling her that he was dying of cancer and wanted to see her one last time. Gloria made the mistake of believing that lie and went to his house to console him.
After attacking and murdering Gloria, Coday fled to Europe. Three months later, he was arrested. He confessed – in fact, he wrote a document that described his obsession with Gloria. On the last page, he claimed that he didn’t remember his fatal attack on her. He wrote: "I don't remember anything else, dear Gloria. Only returning to my senses, looking down, seeing me there on top of you, the knife plunged deep into your throat, and blood everywhere, you crying out, why Bill why, and uttering those final words."
The jury never heard that this was not the first murder he’d committed. Even so, Coday was sentenced to death. Years of appeals followed, and during that time he placed his pen pal ad on an anti-death penalty website.
In 1978, Lisa Hullinger was a smart, attractive 19-year-old exchange student visiting Germany. She’d met Coday, also an exchange student, and dated him for a few months. However, he was so possessive that he frightened her. She broke off the relationship. As in the case of Gloria Gomez, he lured Lisa to his apartment and bashed her head twelve times with a hammer, killing her. He was convicted of Germany’s equivalent of manslaughter and sentenced to eighteen months in prison.
After serving his time, Coday returned to America and married twice. He inflicted such verbal and physical abuse on both women that they divorced him. In fact, every relationship he ever had was marred by extreme possessive behavior, stalking, and violent outbursts.
Like Gloria Gomez, Lisa shouldn’t be forgotten. She played tennis, violin, and was involved in the Campus Christian Fellowship at Miami University. An A-student who was interested in foreign cultures and languages, she also had a down-home quality about her.
On April 28, 2008, Coday was found dead in his cell. Although a report hasn’t been released, prison guards who were at the scene indicate he bled to death from a self-inflicted wound.