Suspected serial killer arrested in Palm Beach County

Investigators say DNA evidence links Robert Hayes to death of Rachel Bey

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Associated Press
WPBF

Robert Hayes stares into the courtroom during his initial court appearance, Sept. 16, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A suspected serial killer believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least five women in Florida has been arrested in Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw announced Monday that Robert Hayes, 32, has been charged with first-degree murder in the 2016 death of Rachel Bey.

A road crew worker found the prostitute's naked body about 50 feet from the Beeline Highway in March 2016. An autopsy later determined that she had been severely beaten and strangled.

"Genetic genealogy was the investigative tool that identified the killer," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Troy Walker said during a news conference in West Palm Beach.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri announced at a separate news conference that Hayes is also a suspect in the deaths of three other women in 2005 and 2006.

Authorities from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Daytona Beach Police Department and FDLE, along with prosecutors from the Palm Beach County and Volusia County state attorney's office, said DNA evidence linked Hayes to the crimes.

Investigators said Hayes lived in Daytona Beach at the time of the killings before moving to West Palm Beach, where Bey was last seen alive.

Rachel Bey's naked body was found near the Beeline Highway in March 2016.

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"It's more likely that the DNA sample is Rachel Bey and Robert Hayes than Rachel Bey and any other human on the planet," Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Capt. Mike Wallace said.

Capri said Hayes was interviewed about 14 years ago, but there was no evidence to charge him. Capri said Hayes was a college student at the time.

Hayes, who was arrested Sunday by Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies, has not yet been charged in the Daytona Beach killings. 

A Palm Beach County judge ordered that Hayes be held without bond.

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