Gainesville murders spark media frenzy, police face pressure to find suspect: Part 4

Chief investigator Spencer Mann said the reports containing leaked information “damaged” the investigation. Still, police zeroed in on a possible suspect.
6:51 | 04/13/21

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Transcript for Gainesville murders spark media frenzy, police face pressure to find suspect: Part 4
The killer or killers of five college students may still be in the Gainesville area tonight. There wasn't fear in the air, there was terror in the air. And remember, all five murder victims were found over just three horrific days. It's almost like you had a wild animal, and you knew it was in your community and it had struck at random places. You almost sensed a presence of evil. Our switchboards were swamped with calls from parents and other family members. "I haven't heard from my daughter." "I haven't heard from my son." "I haven't heard from them. It's been two hours." Parents were calling the TV station, saying, should we take our children out of school? You could drive down the street and see people loading their baggage into the trunks of their car. They were going home. I'm going to take them back home. This is too much of a risk. A lot of people are leaving. Our whole dorm this weekend is going to be gone. Many haven't left town, but an arrest soon would pacify this anxious, nervous community. Students are arming themselves with knives, rolling pins, stun guns, even shotguns. What kind of gun are you buying? A .38 special. You know how to handle it? No, but I'm going to find out. Students that did stay here, they were staying six or eight people in an apartment. We're all buddying up and getting together so we can -- you know, safety in numbers, but it's really scary. The students of the university of Florida wanted to know, what do the police know? What's going on? The problem was the police didn't really know exactly what was going on. All I can say is you need to protect yourself against any intruder, anyone you don't know in your apartments or complexes, and make sure your complexes are secure. We're trying to marshal all the resources we possibly can, number one to prevent and further homicides, and secondly to identify our suspect or suspects. A lot of these students are very scared. Yes, and I cannot blame them. Obviously you begin to wonder how secure you are in your own - home. The investigators saw that whoever was doing this was coming in through the back door. What was beyond the back door in every case? The woods. And coming up out of the woods to these backdoors, they saw that he was going to sliding glass doors and using a screwdriver to pry them open. It was almost like a hurricane was coming. People run in and they buy out all the bread and milk. All the locks at all the hardware stores were sold out. With reinforcements arriving daily here from throughout the state, Gainesville's police force has now tripled in size. The crimes themselves were happening in about a two-mile radius, all along that corridor. And so we knew we had to put down a security blanket. The local law enforcement went on 12-hour shifts, no days off. So now we have state we have the National Guard called in. We have FBI here. And the news media then stormed the town. Huge. This story's huge. I've never seen so many satellite trucks in my life. It felt like an invasion of media from out of town. I was at the airport and literally saw reporters getting off the plane, running through the terminal. Reporters everywhere. Press conferences. Do you have a hot suspect? No, we do not have a hot suspect. Do you have any suspects? This was a very competitive business. Some reporters would sit outside of the police station, and when we would go out and run these leads down, they would follow us. We would interview that witness, and the reporters were going in behind us and asking them, what questions were they here asking you about? And the chief told me the story of one reporter who basically tried to bribe him. There was a credit card on some kind of bank in the cayman islands, and it had my name on it. He said if you could provide me with some of the insights into this crime, that's yours. I said, take that credit card, and I indicated where he could probably keep that for safekeeping. Of great concern to the investigation itself were the leaks that were getting out to the media. Because there are certain elements about these cases that you have to keep close to the chest in order to ascertain who may be a viable suspect and who may not. A source within the investigation is telling us that the type of weapon used is a sharp medical instrument. Body parts are missing at one of the scenes. Here again, at this point, we're not prepared to talk about specific crime scene evidence. We didn't know very much about the crime scene or what had happened to her. And a friend of mine called me up and said, you don't want to read the newspaper. But there in the newspaper it was told to us about what had happened to Christa. That she was beheaded. That she was gutted. That she was posed on the side of the bed. We had no clue. My god, this was our little girl. And that's all Gary could say was, this was my little girl. Look what happened to her. In fact, it was after that, that the families went to the police department and said, you guys, you've got to clean this up. A lot of media reports that have been issued have damaged our homicide investigation. We've had to change our strategy from time to time based on information that has come out. The police were under enormous pressure to solve this problem by making an arrest. A person that became a person of interest to us was Ed Humphrey. We were getting a lot of tips focusing on him. Police call Edward Humphrey the best suspect they have. I remember when Ed Humphrey was arrested. When I saw him on the news footage I remember thinking, there's the son of a bitch. You know? He's been in jail. The murders have stopped. So maybe they got the right guy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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