Daniel Ray Troyer (1 Viewer)

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Banned
Daniel Ray Troyer




Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 2 - 13
Date of murders: 1985 / 1988
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Drucilla Ovard, 83, and Ethel Luckau, 88
Method of murder: Strangulation / Suffocation
Location: Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Status: Sentenced to two consecutive life sentences

Though only charged with two killings, investigators believe former house burglar Daniel Ray Troyer may have been responsible for the deaths of as many as 13 older women.

Troyer, 39, pleaded guilty to killing Drucilla Ovard, 83, and Ethel Luckau, 88, both in 1985. He received two consecutive life sentences. Troyer will spend the rest of his life in prison, but investigators aren't done with him yet. They want to know just how many rapes and homicides he might have committed. And even more, they want to know why.

"We have information from two independent sources who say Troyer killed 12 o 13 women," said Mike George, an investigator for the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office. Troyer's almost always went after elderly women, usually suffocating or strangling them without leaving marks, then posing their bodies so there was no sign of struggle. That has made it harder to detect the crimes, because the women's deaths were so often chalked up to heart attacks or old age.

Even the two murders Troyer pleaded guilty to almost passed as "unattended deaths," George said. Both women were transported to either a mortuary or the medical examiner before it was discovered they were murdered.

Evidence of the crimes was scarce. Police found semen-soaked towels near each victim. But in 1985, DNA testing wasn't honed enough to narrow the field. With no witnesses to his crimes, Troyer was getting away with murder.

Daniel Ray Troyer

BORN : ???

DIED : not yet

VICTIMS : 2 definite + 2 probable = 4 total.

I'm sure that everyone with an interest in serial killers will be fascinated by this case. You see police could never actually get anything to stick to Mr. Troyer, so they've had him locked up on a 1985 burglary conviction. But unluckily for them the sentence is only 15 years, so Daniel should have been up for release very soon. But the State didn't like that idea much, and they have been able to find a way to link Troyer to the crimes he allegedly committed in the early 80's. And what were those crimes?

Daniel Troyer is suspected of killing four old ladies. The two police have really focused on are Drucilla Ovard, 83, who was murdered in 1985; Ethel Luckau, 88, who was murdered in 1988.

Both victims were elderly and lived alone. There were no obvious signs of break-in, robbery was not a motive and both women were killed in a similar manner: Ovard was strangled, and Luckau was strangled and suffocated.

But the most striking similarity was that the perpetrator left semen on towels at both murder scenes.

Interestingly Troyer was paroled from prison about a month before Ovard was killed. Luckau was murdered while Troyer was staying at a Salt Lake halfway house.

In the Ovard killing, Troyer has been charged with first-degree felony murder and aggravated burglary, punishable by up to life in prison. In the Luckau case, he is charged with capital murder, punishable by execution. No trial date has been set in that case.

The 39-year-old defendant is also suspected of murdering two other elderly Salt Lake area women, but prosecutors say there is insufficient evidence to bring charges. Thelma Lillian Blodgett, 69, of South Salt Lake, died July 11, 1985 --six days before Ovard was killed. Lucille Westerman, 73, a neighbor of Luckau, died Aug. 23, 1988 -- six days after Luckau was killed.

Also hampering his innocence claim is the fact that he was previously in jail for an attack on an elderly woman that occurred in 1978, when he beat, choked and attempted to rape a 71-year-old quadriplegic woman, who survived. Troyer pleaded guilty and went to prison. Ten years later, he won parole, which was revoked following the Ovard murder and his arrest for the Nelson burglary.

Are you starting to put all the pieces together?

Well, here's some information about the first murder and Troyer's movements at the time to help you.

Ovard was beaten and strangled July 17, 1985, in the bathroom of her home at 1457 E. Logan Ave. (1420 South). She was not sexually assaulted, but the killer unclothed and exposed her body and apparently masturbated, according to testimony at a 1997 preliminary hearing. Semen found on a yellow towel allegedly has been matched to Troyer's.

Two weeks after the murder, Troyer was arrested less than two blocks away for breaking into the home of 70-year-old Carol Nelson. Nelson was not there, but a neighbor called police.

At the time, Troyer was on parole for attacking an elderly woman in 1978. And his hand was broken -- an injury police say they believe he suffered while punching and breaking Ovard's ribs. But Troyer denied killing Ovard and there was little other evidence. He pleaded guilty to the Nelson burglary and was sent to prison for 1 to 15 years -- the prison term which is about to expire.

Troyer spent three years in prison for the Nelson burglary before he was paroled to a halfway house. About two weeks later, on Aug. 17, 1988, Luckau was murdered at her home, 357 E. 1700 South. The day she died, Troyer had left the halfway house to apply for work at a barber college, three doors away from Luckau's home. Her nude body was found in her bed.

Troyer was charged in 1988 with Luckau's murder, but the charges were dismissed two years later when a judge suppressed crucial evidence, including a statement from Troyer's sister that he had asked her for an alibi; statements from two prison inmates, who claimed Troyer admitted the murder to them, and DNA testing of Troyer's hair.

It was 12 years later, in 1997, that DNA technology -- then brand new -- became sophisticated enough to link Troyer to Ovard's murder and allow charges to be filed. The defense will challenge the admissibility of the DNA evidence during a four-day hearing set to begin June 1.

Troyer allegedly told a fellow inmate elderly women were "easy prey," according to testimony from a December 1997 preliminary hearing in the Ovard case.

Prosecutors appealed the evidence suppression to the Utah Supreme Court, which in 1997 ruled it could be used against Troyer. Since then, prosecutors have submitted new samples for DNA testing and claim they have positively matched Troyer's semen to the Luckau murder scene.

The Wacky World of Murder

Evidence Allowed in Elderly Murders

Sunday, May 9, 1999

If ever there was a case where the evidence of one crime was permissible at the trial of another, this is the case.3rd District Judge Pat Brian

Prosecutors are racing against time to keep behind bars a suspected serial killer who preyed on elderly women.

Daniel Ray Troyer's 15-year sentence for a 1985 burglary conviction expires in 17 months on Sept. 23, 2000.

But before he is freed, Salt Lake District Attorney Ernest Jones hopes Troyer will be serving life in prison -- or awaiting execution -- for the murder of two Salt Lake City women who lived within blocks of each other. Drucilla Ovard, 83, was murdered in 1985; Ethel Luckau, 88, was murdered in 1988.

Prosecutors cleared a major hurdle May 3, when 3rd District Judge Pat Brian ruled that evidence from the Luckau homicide can be presented at Troyer's June 23 trial for Ovard's murder.

Evidence of other crimes is not admissible at criminal trials unless the modus operandi -- the manner in which the crimes are committed -- are similar enough to qualify them as "signature crimes." And, according to Utah rule of evidence 404(b), the evidence can be used only to prove the defendant's identity, motive or plan -- not to show he is a bad person.

Defense attorney Edward Brass claimed the two cases are not similar, and allowing any evidence of the other murder is "extremely prejudicial" to Troyer.

But Judge Brian called the two crimes "shockingly and astonishingly similar," a "hand-in-glove" fit. "If ever there was a case where the evidence of one crime was permissible at the trial of another, this is the case."

The judge said both victims were elderly and lived alone. There were no obvious signs of break-in, robbery was not a motive and both women were killed in a similar manner: Ovard was strangled, and Luckau was strangled and suffocated.

But the most striking similarity, Brian said, was that the perpetrator left semen on towels at both murder scenes.

Defense attorney Brass argued the two crimes -- committed three years apart -- were too remote in time to fit the rule. But the judge said the time gap could be explained by Troyer's prison history. Troyer was paroled from prison about a month before Ovard was killed. Luckau was murdered while Troyer was staying at a Salt Lake halfway house.

In the Ovard killing, Troyer is charged with first-degree felony murder and aggravated burglary, punishable by up to life in prison. In the Luckau case, he is charged with capital murder, punishable by execution. No trial date has been set in that case.

The 39-year-old defendant also is suspected of murdering two other elderly Salt Lake area women, but prosecutors say there is insufficient evidence to bring charges. Thelma Lillian Blodgett, 69, of South Salt Lake, died July 11, 1985 -- six days before Ovard was killed. Lucille Westerman, 73, a neighbor of Luckau, died Aug. 23, 1988 -- six days after Luckau was killed.

Ovard was beaten and strangled July 17, 1985, in the bathroom of her home at 1457 E. Logan Ave. (1420 South). She was not sexually assaulted, but the killer unclothed and exposed her body and apparently masturbated, according to testimony at a 1997 preliminary hearing. Semen found on a yellow towel allegedly has been matched to Troyer's.

Two weeks after the murder, Troyer was arrested less than two blocks away for breaking into the home of 70-year-old Carol Nelson. Nelson was not there, but a neighbor called police. (Jurors in the Ovard murder case also will hear evidence of the Nelson burglary.)

At the time, Troyer was on parole for attacking an elderly woman in 1978. And his hand was broken -- an injury police say they believe he suffered while punching and breaking Ovard's ribs. But Troyer denied killing Ovard and there was little other evidence. He pleaded guilty to the Nelson burglary and was sent to prison for 1 to 15 years -- the prison term which is about to expire.

It was 12 years later, in 1997, that DNA technology -- then brand new -- became sophisticated enough to link Troyer to Ovard's murder and allow charges to be filed. The defense will challenge the admissibility of the DNA evidence during a four-day hearing set to begin June 1.

Troyer spent three years in prison for the Nelson burglary before he was paroled to a halfway house. About two weeks later, on Aug. 17, 1988, Luckau was murdered at her home, 357 E. 1700 South. The day she died, Troyer had left the halfway house to apply for work at a barber college, three doors away from Luckau's home. Her nude body was found in her bed.

Troyer was charged in 1988 with Luckau's murder, but the charges were dismissed two years later when a judge suppressed crucial evidence, including a statement from Troyer's sister that he had asked her for an alibi; statements from two prison inmates, who claimed Troyer admitted the murder to them, and DNA testing of Troyer's hair.

Prosecutors appealed the evidence suppression to the Utah Supreme Court, which in 1997 ruled it could be used against Troyer. Since then, prosecutors have submitted new samples for DNA testing and claim they have positively matched Troyer's semen to the Luckau murder scene.

Troyer told a fellow inmate elderly women were "easy prey," according to testimony from a December 1997 preliminary hearing in the Ovard case.

His first-known attack on an elderly woman occurred in 1978, when he beat, choked and attempted to rape a 71-year-old quadriplegic woman, who survived. Troyer pleaded guilty and went to prison. Ten years later, he won parole, which was revoked following the Ovard murder and his arrest for the Nelson burglary.

Prosecutor Jones says he fears Troyer will kill again if he is freed next year. "We'd like to get him tried before [the] 21st century," Jones said. "On both murders."

Daniel Ray Troyer

October 9, 1999

While serving life in prison for killing two elderly Utah women, Daniel Ray Troyer confessed to murdering three other women after prosecutors promised he would not face additional charges. If true, Troyer would rival child-killer Arthur Gary Bishop -- who murdered five boys -- as Utah's most prolific serial killer.
 

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