James Michael Randall (born August 28, 1954)
is an American criminal whose convictions include multiple rapes, a
kidnapping, and the murder of two women in the Tampa Bay Area in
Florida in the 1990s. Randall is currently an inmate in the Jackson
Correctional Institute serving out two life sentences. Randall has
been variously described as a "serial killer", despite only having two
convictions for murder, and as a "notorious criminal".
Randall was a chief suspect in the 1984 death of
Boston resident Holly Jean Cote, whose death by strangulation was
never solved. Cote was a friend of Randall's then-wife, Linda Randall.
Cote was last seen alive in the Gardner area of Massachusetts on March
4, 1984. Her body was found in early May in a marsh near Birch Hill
Dam at Royalston. His suspected involvement in Cote's death is based
on statements Randall made to his then-wife and to mental health
workers during interactions he had with psychiatric services in late
1984, and on the fact that Cote's body was recovered in a fishing area
Randall was known to frequent. Randall was never charged with an
offence relating to Cote's death but evidence relating to the
investigation was raised in the subsequent Evans/Pugh murder trial.
In the late 1980s a Massachusetts court convicted
James Randall of an incident of sexual battery of Linda Randall, which
occurred on 18 July 1986. Later the same year James was convicted of
two counts of sexual battery and one count of kidnapping, also
relating to Linda Randall. He was sentenced to five to seven years
imprisonment for these offences and spent time in a Massachusetts
prison until his release in 1992. After his release Randall moved to
Florida and got a job as a window installer.
Murders of Wendy Evans and Cynthia Pugh
On October 20, 1995, Wendy Evans, a Florida
prostitute, was killed by strangulation; her naked body was found on
Myrtle Lane in Oldsmar by a UPS truck driver later the same day. On
January 18, 1996, Cynthia Pugh, another Florida prostitute, was also
killed by strangulation, her body being discovered on January 19,
Police identified James Randall as a person of
interest in relation to both deaths after finding tire marks that
matched Randall's Dodge D-50 pick-up truck. Police went to speak to
Randall on June 27 1996 at his residence. Following that conversation
police observed Randall leaving his premises in his truck and
attempted to stop him to ask further questions, but Randall instead
accelerated away from police and a high-speed chase between Randall
and police followed. Following the conclusion of the chase Randall
continued to flee on foot and was not eventually found and detained
until four days later (July 1, 1996).
Police investigations revealed that Randall had a
history of engaging in consensual erotic asphyxiation with his sexual
partners, along with allegations of non-consensual violent attacks on
his then-girlfriend Terry-Jo Howard involving in part attempts to
In April 1997 Randall was convicted by a Florida
jury of first-degree murder in the strangulation deaths of both women.
Sentencing judge Susan Schaeffer found three aggravating factors in
the offence, being (1) that Randall had a previous conviction for a
felony, (2) that the previous conviction was for a violent felony, and
(3) that the murders were especially heinous, callous or cruel. Taking
these factors into account, the court sentenced Randall to two death
sentences in relation to the murders. He was also sentenced to a
concurrent sentence of five years on a charge of evading police.
Randall appealed the murder convictions; his appeal
was heard by the Supreme Court of Florida in 2000. The court upheld
the appeals and found that Randall had most likely choked Evans and
Pugh for pleasure, not to kill them. Accordingly, the conviction for
first-degree murder was replaced with a conviction for second-degree
murder in relation to both deaths, and his death sentences were
changed to sentences of life imprisonment.
The murder of Evans and Pugh was featured on two
television shows. Forensic Files in an episode titled The
Common Thread, and Body of Evidence.
Randall has been the target of allegations that he
was involved in other deaths in Massachusetts and Florida. The initial
investigations that linked Randall to the deaths of Evans and Pugh
involved inquiry into a series of deaths involving female victims,
many of them prostitutes, who were killed by strangulation and whose
bodies were found naked.
The St Petersburg Times reports that when
the imprisoned Randall was informed by detectives he would be charged
with the murders of Cynthia Pugh and Wendy Evans, he replied, "Is that
Although investigations are continuing, no charges
have been laid against Randall relating to other deaths.
James Michael Randall