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Edwin Bernard KAPRAT III

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   


A.K.A.: "Granny Killer"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Arson
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: 1991 / August 7-September 30, 1993
Date of arrest: October 8, 1993
Date of birth: 1964
Victims profile: One man / Sophia Garrity, 80 / Ruth Goldsmith, 70 / Lydia Ridell, 79 / Lorraine Dawe, 87
Method of murder: Beating / ???
Location: Hernando County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death February 28, 1995. Murdered in prison on April 19, 1995 by Mario Lara and Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wide-ranging Investigation Led To Suspect

By Jill Jorden Spitz - Orlando Sentinel

November 23, 1993

SPRING HILL An elderly woman was dead, and deputy sheriffs canvassed her neighborhood for information on the mysterious house fire that apparently had killed her.

A few houses down, they interviewed Edwin ''Michael'' Kaprat III, a 29-year-old machinist who said he had just moved in with his sister.

At the time, authorities had no way of knowing the victim, 80-year-old Sophia Garrity, would be the first of four elderly widows to be killed and burned in this sprawling suburb about 50 miles north of Tampa.

They also had no idea the concerned neighbor - the man they first spoke with Aug. 7 - would become their primary suspect in a case that left the normally quiet community so gripped with fear that elderly residents locked themselves in their homes, moved in with friends or left town.

Kaprat was arrested Oct. 8 after an extensive high-tech surveillance that included the installation of electronic tracking devices on his and his father's cars.

Although he initially confessed to killing the four women and severely beating an elderly couple, Kaprat has since pleaded not guilty to the 18 felony charges he faces.

Stacks of documents in the case were released to the news media on Monday, revealing a case so thorough and exhaustive that it seems nearly every man in Spring Hill was at some point considered a suspect.

Residents called the Hernando County Sheriff's Office by the thousands to report ''suspicious'' events, ''strange'' people and wild hunches.

One man was investigated after he told a stranger that if he were the killer, he would dump the bodies in a swamp rather than try to burn them. A kitchen worker found himself facing a pair of stern-faced deputies after he stabbed a soup bag and joked to a co-worker that he was the Spring Hill killer.

As some deputies worked furiously to find the serial killer, others sat patiently at crime scenes, jotting down license numbers of everyone who drove past. They videotaped mourners at the victims' funerals and checked out everyone who signed a register at one memorial service.

Despite all the leads, however, one name kept coming up: Edwin Kaprat III, whose record includes a 1991 Hillsborough County arrest on a murder charge that was dropped for lack of evidence.

Detectives' notes, statements of officers from various law enforcement agencies and formal case reports paint the following picture of the investigation.

Sept. 29

The day after the fourth killing takes the life of 87-year-old Lorraine Dawe, an anonymous caller later identified as Janice Daniels calls the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and whispers that the person committing the Spring Hill homicides is Edwin Kaprat. Daniels, a friend of Kaprat's parents, said she knew Kaprat did work for the victims.

Sept. 30

Forensic experts identify fingerprints found on Dawe's garage as Kaprat's. The same day, a surveillance team of at least nine officers starts tracking Kaprat's every move.

Oct. 3

Authorities record a conversation between Dawe's neighbor, Marie Van Nieuwenhuize and Kaprat's father. Edwin Kaprat II mentions that he has done work for all the victims and that his son often helps him on jobs.

Oct. 4

Dawe's banker tells authorities her client was concerned that Kaprat sometimes came to her house and asked to use the telephone.

Oct. 5

Investigator Scott Beirweiler asks Garrity's daughter about Kaprat. She knew him, she said. He dated the victim's granddaughter in late 1992 until the young woman died of cancer.

Checking further into the victims' pasts, investigators find more links to Kaprat.

His father erected a ''for sale'' sign outside the home of William and Alice Whitney, who were severely beaten inside their home Aug. 17. The father also remodeled the kitchen of 70-year-old Lydia Riddell, who was found dead in her mobile home Sept. 2.

Kaprat's mother, Ruth, sold a mobile home to 70-year-old Ruth Goldsmith, who died in a fire in the home Aug. 18.

Kaprat is in the Hernando County jail without bail. A trial date has not been set.

 
 

Handyman Charged With Killing and Burning 4 Elderly Widows

The New York Times

October 11, 1993

A handyman has been charged with raping, murdering and burning four elderly widows in a series of killings that terrorized a Florida retirement community.

The handyman, Edwin Kaprat, 29, was arrested on Saturday after his fingerprints were identified at the victims' homes, Hernando County Sheriff Thomas Mylander said. His victims were neighbors and people for whom he had done repairs. After attacking them, he set their homes on fire to destroy evidence, Sheriff Mylander said.

The slayings had spread panic through Brooksville, a retirement community 60 miles north of Tampa. Many elderly residents bought handguns and installed alarm systems.

The killings began on Aug. 7, when Sophia Garrity, 80, was found dead in her home. Investigators initially believed that she had died from a fire set off by an electric short.

Investigators also blamed an electrical short when 70-year-old Ruth Goldsmith's burned body was found the next day in her mobile home.

The police began searching for a serial killer after the Sept. 2 death of Mrs. Goldsmith's best friend, 79-year-old Lydia Ridell, and the Sept. 30 death of Mrs. Garrity's elderly neighbor, Loraine Dawe.

Under Surveillance

The police had suspected Mr. Kaprat since an anonymous tip Sept. 30 and kept him under surveillance until they had matched his fingerprints with those found at all the victims' homes.

The sheriff said Mr. Kaprat confessed to the killings and gave an especially gruesome account of Mrs. Dawe's death.

"He said he stepped on her neck and broke her neck to put her out of her misery because she was having a heart attack" while he sexually assaulted her, Sheriff Mylander said.

Mr. Kaprat was also charged with the attempted murder of a couple in their 80's, William and Alice Whitney.

Investigators said he sought out elderly women who lived alone and was apparently surprised by Mr. Whitney. The police said Mr. Kaprat beat the Whitneys and set their home on fire on Aug. 17. They were saved by a neighbor who heard their smoke alarm.

A Husky Suspect

Mr. Kaprat, a husky 200-pound man with a dragon tattoo, said he attacked the women because he was "just having urges," investigators said.

Neighbors described Mr. Kaprat as a violent man they had once seen fighting in the yard with his girlfriend.

"He pushed her and her purse went flying, then he grabbed her and put her over his shoulder and hauled her back into the house screaming," said neighbor Barbara Templeton. "After that, we all started referring to him as 'The Neanderthal.' "

Mr. Kaprat was arrested two years ago in the robbery and murder of a man on a Tampa highway, but was convicted only of using the dead man's credit cards and served a brief term.

Residents here expressed relief at news of the arrest. "It's wonderful," 74-year-old Martha Cunningham was quoted by The Associated Press as saying. "This was the first time here I had been truly afraid to be alone."

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex./Sad.

MO: Beat man to death, 1991; rape-slayer of women age 72-87, killed/burned in their homes, 1993.

DISPOSITION: two years house arrest for using dead man's credit cards, 1991; condemned, 1995; murdered in prison Apr. 20, 1995.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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