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Undercover Prostitution Stings Launched To Snare Elusive Serial Killer

POSTED: Wednesday, January 16, 2008
UPDATED: 5:11 pm EST January 16, 2008

A series of undercover prostitution stings have been launched in Daytona Beach in an effort to snare a serial killer believed to be hunting women in the area, Local 6 has learned.

IMAGES: Photos From Prostitution Sting
IMAGES: Victim Photos
IMAGES: Prostitutes Hunt Killer

The slaying of Stacey Gage, 30, recently reignited serial killer fears in Central Florida because the circumstances of Gage's death were "eerily similar" to the slayings of three other women in December of 2006. The three victims were known prostitutes.

Detectives said the slew of recent stings led to the arrest of groups of people but it was unclear whether any leads were obtained.

Officers warned that anyone getting into a stranger's vehicle is risking death.

"(Prostitution in Daytona) has basically become a roulette game," Daytona Beach Detective Matt Doughney said. "That car they get into may be the last car they ever get in."

Doughney said police still believe their big break in the case is one interview away.

"It doesn't mean we are going to just go after the girls who are out there. It means we are going after the johns as well," Doughney said. "That person you stop may in fact be that serial killer."

Each alleged prostitute in the sting was questioned about Gage's hangouts, her friends and other information about her life, Local 6's Tarik Minor reported.

Police fear the killer may strike again.

"Every night I go to bed, I dread I get a phone call that we have another victim," Doughney said.

In 2006, the serial killing deaths of Iwana Patton, Laquetta Gunther and Julie Green grabbed national attention and frightened many in Daytona Beach.

Patton, Gunther and Green were all shot at close range and sexually assaulted. DNA was also left at each of the crime scenes, authorities said.

Investigators said they still believe the killer is likely someone who knows Daytona Beach.

It was initially thought that the serial killer had left the area after the last homicide in 2006. However, now there are concerns he never left the area, Local 6's Tarik Minor said.

Anyone with information concerning the deaths is urged to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

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