Monday, October 20, 2008
The Ninja Killer by Robert A. Waters
On the night of November 20, 1989, Louis Gaskin dressed for murder. He planned to kill and pillage. The would-be assassin put on a black ninja costume to blend in with the night. Ninjas are trained assassins, he later told police in a detailed confession. Gaskin’s dream was to be ninja killer. As he walked out the door of his home, he armed himself with a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle.
The unsuspecting victims of his dark fantasy lounged in the den of their Palm Coast, Florida home watching television. Robert Sturmfels, 56, had settled into his recliner while his wife Georgette, 55, sat on the sofa. They’d never heard of the career criminal who was about to end their lives.
Gaskin drove aimlessly through the darkness, searching for a target. When he passed 10 Ricker Place, he saw a light shining through a patch of woods. Parking his car beneath a grove of trees, he moved silently toward the house. He stood for long moments in silence, watching, scoping it ninja-style. Then he circled the house. Once, twice, six times. Gaskin fancied himself a warrior moving in for the kill. Looking through the den window, he had a clear shot.
He raised the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired. Robert felt the bullet smash into his chest and came up out of his chair. Gaskin fired again. This time, Robert collapsed onto the floor. It took Georgette a few seconds to realize what was happening. She leaped out of her chair and began running toward the hallway. A bullet took her down. Robert somehow stood again and began to stagger away. A third shot hit him in the back and he fell again.
Georgette, bleeding heavily from a back wound, crawled down the hallway, out of Gaskin’s sight. He circled the house until he came to a set of French doors. There he saw Georgette struggling to get to her feet. He fired once more and she crumpled to the floor.
Gaskin inhaled the cool Florida air. Of all the many crimes he’d committed — burglary, robbery, selling and using drugs, sexually assaulting children — this was the most exciting. He pulled a hunting knife and slashed a window screen at the back of the house. Unlatching the window, he entered. He reloaded his gun, walked over to Robert and shot him in the back of the head. Then he placed the barrel of the rifle against the back of Georgette’s head and blew her brains out.
Gaskin knew that the nearest house was a quarter of a mile away so he relaxed as he gathered up items he could sell: jewelry, VCRs, lamps, a clock, an iron, household appliances. He looked for guns and drugs but found none. He checked Georgette’s purse but found only credit cards. Robert’s wallet contained $ 300 and more cards so he took it. Gaskin placed the items in the victims’ truck. He then drove through the woods to his own car where he transferred his loot.
As he drove away, he left the bodies of two innocent victims inside the silent house.
But Gaskin wasn’t done. He’d spied a second secluded house just down the road. Joseph and Mary Rector had watched the eleven o’clock news and were on their way to bed when they heard a thump outside. Joseph investigated but saw nothing. The noises continued. Court documents state that “after hearing a similar noise for the third time, Rector told his wife to call the sheriff. Mrs. Rector soon discovered that their phone was not working. They took the phone into bedroom where they tried plugging it into another jack without success. As he stood in the dark bedroom, Rector saw his window shade appear to explode. He looked down, saw blood, and realized he had been shot.”
The ninja killer had thrown rocks and logs against the house to get his victims to come into view so he could shoot them.
Robert and Mary rushed out of the house and climbed into their car. Robert needed to get to the hospital. As they screeched out of the driveway, more shots rang out and the Rectors heard bullets thudding into the car. With Mary driving, they were able to reach the hospital and call police.
Detectives arrived at the Rector home. It had been ransacked. As they continued their investigation, a postal carrier noticed a broken window at the Sturmfels home and reported it. There cops found the bodies of Robert and Georgette.
After burglarizing the Rector home, Gaskin drove to Alfonso Golden’s home. He asked his cousin to store the stolen items for him. Golden agreed. Gaskin volunteered that he’d “jacked” the loot and told Golden that the victims are “stiff.” “If you don’t believe it,” Gaskin bragged, “watch the news.”
Golden, who also had a police record, waited a few days but eventually contacted police. Gaskin was arrested and quickly gave a detailed confession. He led authorities to a canal where he’d hidden the credit cards, wallet, and other items.
When asked why he’d done it, Gaskin replied, “God said, ‘No.’ The devil said, ‘Yes’...The devil had more of a hold [on me] than God did.”
Joseph Rector recovered from his wounds.
Louis Bernard Gaskin was tried and convicted of two counts of first degree murder. He was given two death sentences.
He claims to have has found religion. “I think of God,” he said. “I play checkers and read the Bible.”
His victims, Robert and Georgette Sturmfels, have been dead for nearly twenty years.
Posted by Robert A. Waters at 8:45 AM