3rd Anniversary of Cheryl Dunlap's Death

By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED 12.15.2010 7:30pm by Julie Montanaro

The body of missing Sunday School teacher Cheryl Dunlap was found three years ago today and her accused killer is getting ready to go to trial.

Gary Hilton has been in court a lot lately as attorneys battle over the admissibility of evidence and how much of it should be made public before his January trial.

Among the motions just unsealed, a request that Hilton not be labelled a serial killer in court.

Those who knew Cheryl Dunlap - and those who didn't - say her murder forever changed this rural community of 31,000. Suddenly folks were locking their doors and looking over their shoulders and the hurt and anger are still palpable three years later. That anger is directed at this man ... accused killer Gary Michael Hilton.

"I hope he gets either the electric chair or the needle," said Wakulla County resident Peggy McLaurin.

"People get, have trials but to me, they don't need to have a trial for him," Wakulla County Resident Shellen Scott said.

Hilton's attorneys have fought to keep much of the evidence against him under seal.

Among the motions unsealed by a judge Friday: a request that no prosecutor or witness refer to him as a serial killer because that, his attorneys argue, would deprive him of a fair trial.

The motions also sought to bar prosecutors from introducing any evidence in seven other killings ... killings that span four states in 11 years.

Authorities confirm Hilton is a person of interest in the 2005 murder of Rosanna Milliani and a suspect in the October 2007 murders of John and Irene Bryant, but detectives working on the other cases tell Eyewitness News they have no evidence linking Hilton to the other crimes.

"I don't think he's been unfairly labelled a serial killer," Dunlap's cousin Gloria Tucker said.

Tucker, says she would prefer there not be a trial in Tallahassee at all - rather that Hilton die in prison while serving his life sentence for the murder of Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson.

More than anything she wants this all of this to be over.

'"That's the one thing that I hate about what happened to Cheri is the horror that she had to go through. I don't want ot hear what he did to her. I don't want to hear what she had to suffer through. It would just be nice if it were over," Tucker said.

There were several other motions unsealed Friday too, dealing with a book Hilton was reading, a movie he apparently helped to write, and a bayonet impression left behind.

Gary Hilton's trial is scheduled to start January 31st.

The motions unsealed last week seek to bar the state from trying to introduce any evidence concerning the disappearances and/or deaths of:

Levi Frady, an 11 year old boy who was abducted from Forsyth County, Georgia in October 1997. He was found shot to death the next day in the forest in Dawson County, Georgia. GBI Spokesman John Bankhead says they have not found any evidence to link Hilton to this crime.

Jason Knapp, a Clemson University student who vanished in April 1998. His car was found at Table Rock State Park, but Knapp has not been seen or heard from since. A Spokesman with the Sheriff's Office in Pickens County, South Carolina says investigators did interview Hilton about Knapp's disappearance, but say Hilton denied any knowledge of it and investigators have no evidence linking him to the crime.

Patrice Andres, a hair salon owner in Cumming, Georgia who disappeared from her shop in April 2004. Her body was found
more than a year later behind a church in Dawsonville. GBI Spokesman John Bankhead says they have not found any evidence to link Hilton to this crime.

Rosanna Milliani, a woman who disappeared from Cherokee, North Carolina in December 2005 when she went to hike the Apalachian Trail. She has never been found. Noelle Talley with the North Carolina Department of Justice says Hilton is a person of interest in her disappearance.

John and Irene Bryant, a couple who disappeared while in Pisgah National Forest in October 2007. Irene was found bludgeoned to death and her husband's remains were found in February 2008. Transylvania County authorities have previously identified Hilton as a suspect in their deaths, but a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorneys Office says there are no public records with Hilton's name on them and would not comment any further.

Michael Scott Louis, a Florida man who disappeared from Ormond Beach in November 2007. A fisherman found his dismembered body a few weeks later in three different trash bags along the Tomoka River. SGT Kenny Hayes with the Ormond Beach Police says investigators could not find any evidence linking Hilton to the crime and says he has never been named a suspect in Louis's murder.

** WCTV has included some of the motions. Five of the motions are posted inlcuding the one about the book, the movie, being referred to as a serial killer and motion thirteen in reference to toolmaark identification of an U.S. M7 Bayonetm imperial brank on the tire. Those attachments can be found by clicking the document icons above. **
December 15th marks the 3rd anniversary of the day hunters found the body of Cheryl Dunlap.

Cheryl Dunlap was a Sunday School teacher and nurse at Thagard Health Center at FSU. Dunlap was brutally murdered back in December of 2007. Her body was found three years ago today in the Apalachicola National Forest.

Gary Michael Hilton is accused of kidnapping Dunlap and killing her. Hilton is scheduled to stand trial in January 2011.

We want to take you through some important dates that may play a factor in the impending Hilton trial:

On December 3rd, 2007, Chery Dunlap is reported missing. She did not show up to church on Sunday December 2nd and did not come to work at FSU's Thagard Center December 3rd.

Then, by December 15th, Dunlap's body is discovered in the Apalachicola National Forest.

By January the 8th of the new year, Gary Michael Hilton was charged in murder of Meredith Emerson ,and the following day was named the prime suspect in Dunlap's case.

On February the 28th, Hilton was indicted for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap.

In June 2008, he was extradited from Georgia to the Leon County Jail to face charges in her death.

Stay with Eyewitness News for continuing coverage of the anniversary of Cheryl Dunlap's Death.

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