Crawfordville Residents React to Hilton Verdict

By: Jennifer Milton Email
By: Jennifer Milton Email

It took over three years for the trial of accused murderer Gary Michael Hilton to be heard by a jury in Florida, but now, a guilty verdict is in, and Hilton will pay for the crime.

"I'm glad that her family can probably get some closure, and it's good to have him put away so that nobody else has to go through that., I feel very sorry for her family," said Shannon Gill.

Shannon Gill has lived in Crawfordville all her life and remembers the eerie feeling of knowing a killer was on the loose, and the victim was a Sunday School teacher in her very own community.

"The more the little bits and pieces of what actually happened and how they found her came out, it was a little bit more scary. And it was kind of frightening before we'd actually found out who they had caught," said Gill.

But DNA and a trail of other evidence linked Hilton to the kidnapping and brutal murder of 46- year old Cheryl Dunlap, whose gruesome remains were discovered in the Apalachicola National Forrest.

"It was a pretty hideous crime, you know, he didn't show any mercy to her, so I don't think he deserves any mercy, and I think he should be executed the same way he killed her," said Randy Howell.

Even some of the youngest Wakulla County residents are pleased with the jury's 1st degree murder, kidnapping and grant theft convictions and anxiously await word of whether Hilton will end up on death row.

"I'm glad that Hilton is in prison for killing the Sunday School teacher, I feel bad for her and I feel bad for her family and I'm glad he's guilty," said Wesley Gill.

Several people remember the day they heard Dunlap was missing and say today was bittersweet because they are pleased with the outcome, but it won't bring Cheryl Dunlap back.


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