The Fort Myers Eight

Date Published 05.07.07
The discovery of eight human skeletons in a wooded area of downtown Fort Myers a month and a half ago got curiously little news coverage. Judging from comments left on Florida news message boards, local residents are hoping the discovery is a funeral home scandal or cremation scam, rather than a serial killer's dumping ground. They won't know for a while if they have a maniac in their midst: the bones are currently with a forensic anthropologist, who's studying them for age, trauma, and other clues.

Unfortunately for local residents, early signs point to a maniac. A body dump by a funeral home would have kept the bodies together, but the Fort Myers skeletons were spread around. The remains had no clothing or personal affects. While tight-lipped authorities clamped down on leaks so as not to scare the retirees and tourists, former FBI profiler John Douglas didn't mind sounding an alarm to an Associated Press reporter:

"If you're in the business of killing people, that's a great disposal area," he added. "You've got the remoteness, the elements, the heat, the insects, animal predation. You put a body out there and probably within a week or so, there's not going to be much left."

The good news is the maniac in question might already be behind bars. A poster at Websleuths, the crime sleuthing message board, says that she hears the skeletons are all male:

04-26-2007, 08:22 AM
suzannec4444 suzannec4444 is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 213
I was told it appears in the preliminary investigation that all of the skeletal remains they found are men. I was very surprised about that.I do not know how long they had been out there.I assume they are figuring this all out now.


If Suzanne's information is correct, the 10-acre lot where the skeletons were found might be one of the dumping grounds of Daniel Conahan, a serial killer who preyed on men in southwestern Florida in the 1990s. Conahan, known as "The Hog Trail Killer" for the wooded, remote areas where he lured and killed his victims, is currently on death row in Florida.

Daniel Conahan

Conahan operated in Fort Myers and nearby North Port. He was known to dump bodies, often times more than one, in wooded areas. Most chilling, in 1994 Conahan assaulted and tried to kill a young man named Stanley Burden in a wooded area off Rockfill Road in Fort Myers. Burden got away, and later was able to identify Conahan in a line-up. Here is a map showing the distance between A, where the eight skeletons were found, and B, where Conahan tried to kill Burden:

Yahoo! Maps indicates the distance is .8 miles.

Police have long suspected Conahan had more victims. His method of killing was strangulation, which would explain the lack of obvious trauma on the skeletons when they were found. The forensic anthropologist will have the final word, and, until then, it's a waiting game of conjecture and suspicion. The only man who knows for sure sits on death row. It's fair to assume he's received visitors there in the last few weeks. What has he said about his old stomping grounds? Hopefully we'll know soon.

The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary:
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Know what he does believe in? PAC $. Took 10K from HRC pac 2006. That means he's in her pocket.#BSLogic
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Good one. Unfortunately Bernie on record as not believing in charity.
@johnlevenstein Thanks for asking, btw. That's the kind of elevated discourse missing lately. A lot of mud slinging. #I'mNotAboveItEither
@johnlevenstein Can't convey it all thru Twitter but yes, she has flaws. Too poll-driven, burned needed bridges, trouble owning mistakes.