Significant Investigations

The following is a brief synopsis of some of the significant cases or serial violence multi-agency task forces with which the Gainesville Police Department has had involvement.


A Florida/Georgia Task Force was formed to investigate the serial rapes of twenty (20) young women in and around Athens, Georgia and Gainesville, Florida. The joint investigation began in October 1996 and led to the "first cross-state DNA match in the United States". This DNA match led to the arrest of John Alexander Scieszka, W/M, 02/08/51, in Alpharetta, Georgia on January 29, 1997. Scieszka is incarcerated in prison in Georgia.


Deportation proceedings of convicted Florida rapist Sharif Sharif , W/M, 09/16/46, which were begun by the Gainesville Police Department in May of 1992, led to the eventual incarceration of Sharif in Mexico in March, 1999. The information was brought to the attention of the Gainesville Police Department by a local citizen and led to Sharif being identified as a serial rape and murder suspect within the United States and Mexico. He is currently incarcerated in prison in Juarez, Mexico. Other states and the FBI continue to consider him a suspect in as many as sixty (60) deaths.


The Gainesville Police Department became the host agency for a national Church Arson Task Force formed between area fire departments, the State Fire Marshall, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency (ATF) in October, 1991. Church arsons were being committed in Florida, Tennessee and Colorado. Thirty (30) church fires occurred in Florida with as many as twelve fires occurring within two months, which created the need for significant law enforcement coordination and intense media attention. The case was cleared in February 1992 with the federal indictment of Patrick Lee Frank, W/M, 10/24/50. Frank was ultimately committed to a mental institution in Florida.


The Gainesville Police Department served as the host agency for a serial murder investigation which received international media attention regarding the murders of five college students, Sonja Larson, Christina Powell, Christa Hoyt, Manuel Taboada and Tracy Paules in August of 1990. The case was solved with the arrest of Danny Rolling, W/M, 05/26/54, in January 1991. Rolling was executed at Florida State Prison in October 2006.