Handyman admits killing more women

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — He's killed more people than the Son of Sam, but there are no made-for-TV movies about Alfred Gaynor. The one-time handyman did not even pick up a macabre nickname as he attacked and strangled at least eight women in his hometown of Springfield in the 1990s, becoming one of his state's most prolific serial killers.

The scale of his killing spree only recently became clear when Gaynor, imprisoned on four murder convictions, confessed this fall to four other unsolved slayings in which he'd been a longtime suspect. Charges are possible in two more deaths for which he's confessed: a 20-year-old mother and her toddler daughter in 1996.

The deaths terrorized this western Massachusetts city, where Mace permit requests soared as the women's bodies were discovered in alleys, vehicles and their own homes between 1995 and 1998.

His new confessions came as part of a convoluted plea deal for his imprisoned nephew, who'd been convicted in another murder for which Gaynor, 44, now claims responsibility.

The families of the strangled women vacillate between relief to see him held accountable and anguish over learning details of the deaths. "Some people are just evil through and through," said Janice Ermellini, whose 34-year-old daughter, Jill Ann, was killed in 1997 by Gaynor in an abandoned truck.

"When he finally confessed, I felt like a weight was removed from my shoulders. But that day in court when I heard the gruesome details ... it's different. There's no peace," Ermellini said.

Gaynor remains relatively unknown beyond Springfield. James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, said Gaynor may not have garnered as much notoriety as other serial killers because people might have viewed his murders as less random than, for example, Ted Bundy's rapes and killings of college students and young girls in the 1970s.

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