by Robert A. Waters
On May 29, 2013, Elmer Leon Carroll is scheduled to be executed for the rape and murder of ten-year-old Christine McGowan. Twice convicted for assaulting children, Carroll was a time-bomb ticking toward murder. In 1976, a Pasco County court had sentenced the pedophile to 6 years in prison for “indecent assault on a child under 16.” In 1982, he got 15 years for raping another young girl. (Unfortunately, he only served about half his sentence.)
His third conviction resulted in a death sentence. Carroll’s Florida Supreme Court Appellate Brief summarizes the crime:
“On October 30, 1990, at about 6:00 a.m., Robert Rank went to awaken his ten-year-old stepdaughter Christine McGowan, at their home in Apopka. When she did not respond to his calls, Rank went into her bedroom and found her dead. Shortly thereafter, Rank noticed that his front door was slightly ajar and that his pickup truck he had parked in the yard with the keys in it the night before was missing. When the police arrived, they determined that Christine had been raped and strangled.
“BOLO [Be On the Lookout] was issued for the missing truck, which was a white construction truck bearing the logo ATC on the side. Debbie Hyatt saw a white pickup truck parked near her residence east of Orlando on Highway 50 as she left for work about 6:50 a.m. About a mile down the road, she saw a man whom she later identified as Carroll walking in an easterly direction along the highway away from the truck. She described him as having long scraggly hair and wearing a brown jacket. She did not think to too much about it until she later heard over the radio that the police were looking for a white pickup truck bearing the ATC logo described in the radio bulletin, she called the police. When the sheriff’s deputies arrived, she told them about first seeing the truck and the man walking down the road.
“Carl Young, a state wildlife officer, was traveling on State Road 520 in Orange County on the morning of October 30, 1990. At a point near the intersection of Highway 50, Young noticed a man with shoulder length hair walking down the highway. Young thought this was strange because he was not carrying anything. The man looked back over his shoulder at Young as he passed. After turning onto Highway 50 and proceeding west, [Young] saw a deputy sheriff behind a white pickup truck with his revolver drawn. Young went back to the scene to render assistance.
“By this time, another deputy had arrived, and [Young] heard Debbie Hyatt tell them about the man she had seen walking down the highway away from the truck. Young recalled that her description resembled the person that he had just passed. Young drove back to where Carroll was continuing to walk down the road. Young called to him, but he kept on walking. Young pulled his gun and ordered Carroll to lie down on the ground. Young made a search for weapons and found a box cutter razor blade and some keys. Through radio communication with a deputy who remained at Rank’s truck, it was determined that a number on the keys matched a number on the truck. Young and a deputy who had arrived to assist him then placed Carroll under arrest.
“At the trial, two other witnesses testified that they had seen the man they identified as Carroll about 6 a.m. at a 7-11 store near Apopka. The witnesses said that Carroll was driving a white truck with the ATC logo. It was also discovered that Carroll was a resident of a halfway house located next door to the Rank home. A resident of the halfway house testified that Carroll had told him that the girl who lived next door was ‘cute, sweet and liked to watch him make boats.’ She was seen talking to a man next door who may have been Carroll the day before the murder. Semen, saliva, and pubic hair recovered from the victim were consistent with that of Carroll. One DNA profile of a specimen obtained from the victim matched Carroll’s DNA profile. Blood was found on Carroll’s sweatshirt and on his penis.”
Governor Rick Scott has said that he wants to execute the “worst of the worst” on Florida’s death row, once they’ve run out of appeals. Elmer Leon Carroll certainly qualifies.