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Alfred Gaynor, Mass. Serial Killer, Confesses to Eighth Murder, Adds Another Life Term

Massachusetts Serial Killer Alfred Gaynor Confesses to Eighth Murder, Receives Another Life Term
Alfred Gaynor (AP Photo/The Republican, Michael S. Gordon)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CBS/AP) Alfred Gaynor, a serial killer from western Massachusetts, has confessed to an eighth murder, placing the 43-year-old among the most prolific serial killers in the state's recent history.

Gaynor admitted Tuesday that the strangulation death of 45-year-old Vera Hallums in April 1995 was his first killing.

Hallums, a mother of four, was found bound with electrical cords, beaten and strangled in her Springfield apartment, and was the first of several women killed in the Massachusetts town over the next few years.

Gaynor met many of the women he murdered during a mutual quest for crack cocaine.

Police and prosecutors say he robbed some for drug money, raped most of his victims, and often posed their bodies grotesquely to shock whoever found them, which in several cases happened to be the victims' young children.

In court, the details Gaynor gave prosecutors left victims' family members inconsolable.

"That's all I have left to give, is the truth," Gaynor said as he was sentenced to an eighth life term. "Without my truth, they have nothing."

However, Oletha Wells, 40, one of Hallums' daughters, maintains that her mother's death coupled with the tragic aftermath has been "nothing but a nightmare."

"If anything, it made things worse," Wells said Tuesday. "We really don't have any understanding of why he did it. ... This is not nowhere near closure."

Gaynor was convicted of four murders in 2000, and pleaded guilty last month to three more.

His new admissions come as part of a plea deal for his nephew Paul Fickling, who is serving time on a manslaughter conviction - reduced from a murder charge - for his role in the 1996 deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Amy Smith, and her toddler, who was left to die alone with his mother's body in their sweltering apartment.

Gaynor, who confessed to killing Smith, has not yet been indicted in that case, but District Attorney William Bennett claims he expects to be "taking further action" on it.

Police and Assistant District Attorney Carmen Picknally said Gaynor's eight convictions are the most murders known to be committed by one person in Springfield history, and among the most statewide.

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