Where The Doctor Comes To You

Date Published 05.18.08
The man and woman were having it out in the church parking lot. This was in Daytona Beach. It was a Sunday, just after 6:30 p.m., but the man and woman shouldn’t be mistaken for religious people. The woman’s name first appears in criminal records a little over ten years ago; since then, it’s been drug and prostitution charges, set on repeat. The man’s rap sheet includes, among other things, assault on a female. Between them they have several minor offenses, such as speeding, damage to property, and resisting arrest.

Theirs are two lives marked by chaos and fueled by short-term needs. Dings and dents are left on everything in their wake.

But even street-seasoned petty criminals are capable of shock. As the man and woman fought on April 27 in the parking lot of The Basilica of St. Paul, a clean-cut looking man in a Mustang drove up beside them. The woman, used to spontaneous modes of survival, jumped into the car to escape the escalating argument.

The driver rolled down the window and pointed a handgun at the man.

“I’m the police,” the driver said. “Show me some ID.”

The driver then peeled away with the woman in the front seat. He told her he was an undercover cop and handed her a pair of handcuffs, instructing her to put them on, which she did.

“I’m taking you to jail,” he told her.

He didn’t. They drove around the streets of Daytona Beach for 45 minutes. The sun was going down.

The man in the parking lot was able to memorize the Mustang’s license plate, and he called police with the information and a description. Officers spotted the car going south on Ridgewood Avenue a short while later and pulled it over.

Inside were a frightened, handcuffed prostitute and a man named Jerrold Ecklind.

Ecklind, 37, had two loaded handguns in his car. A third loaded gun was in a holster on his left hip.

But Ecklind isn’t a police officer, undercover or otherwise.

He’s a doctor.

Jerrold Ecklind

Dr. Jerrold Ecklind is an osteopathic physician who specializes in geriatrics, specifically end-of-life care. He’s known in the area for his old-fashioned house calls. “Where The Doctor Comes To You!” is the slogan on his website.

None of this should be particularly newsworthy. A kinky doctor who frequents prostitutes is charged with impersonating a police officer. He claims he was trying to be a hero; investigators suspect something sketchier, but can’t prove it. End of story.

Not in Daytona Beach. There, a handcuffed prostitute and three handguns in your vehicle will stop a police officer cold in his tracks.

That’s because over the last two years an unknown serial killer has murdered four women in the Daytona Beach area. The victims, all leading high-risk lifestyles, were left in remote locations, naked, with .40 caliber bullets in their heads.

Investigators believe the victims all willingly got into a car with their killer. Friends of several of the victims said they wouldn’t have gotten into a car with someone they didn’t know or trust.

That led to a popular theory about the killer: he’s an ex-cop.

Or, the thinking now goes, a doctor masquerading as a cop.

Dr. Ecklind maintains his innocence. He was just trying to break up a fight and help a woman in distress. The guns, he says, are because he makes house calls in bad neighborhoods. He hasn’t explained the handcuffs.

Ecklind’s DNA is currently being tested for a match with the serial killer’s. Curiously, he was asked to give the sample two months before, when Daytona Police stopped him on the night of March 31 for an unknown reason. While police won’t say why Ecklind was stopped, local news reported in February that police were collecting DNA during sex stings in an effort to find the serial killer.

The most tantalizing connection between Ecklind and the murders is, eerily enough, his health care work with the elderly.

He’s associated with or on the staff of several Daytona Beach skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Iwana Patton, 35, was the serial killer’s third victim. She was found shot to death on February 24, 2006. Patton worked as a nurse’s aid at an assisted living facility where Ecklind allegedly had patients.

And Patton’s body was found less than a mile from Indigo Manor, a nursing home where Ecklind says on his website he’s an associate medical director.

Her car was eventually found parked behind a speech rehabilitation center. Police speculated she’d made plans with the killer to meet there.

Stacey Gage, 30, was the killer’s fourth victim. She went out to get a bag of ice at 7-Eleven and vanished. The single mother was trying to beat a longtime cocaine problem, and her family thought she’d relapsed. Three weeks later her body was found near an abandoned church.

As evidence that Gage was getting her life together, family members mentioned that she'd been living with and taking care of her disabled 77-year-old grandmother.

Daytona Police will likely announce soon whether or not Jerrold Ecklind’s DNA is a match.

Ecklind may not be the man, but the killer is probably someone a lot like him.

Superficially unassuming, underneath there lurks an obsession with power and control, and probably some self-anointed fantasy that, despite his patronizing of them, prostitutes are garbage only he can sweep out.

The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary: https://t.co/ijA8xHJ8Tm
@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.