“When A Serial Killer Roams Campus, Sorority Ties Are Tested” for Refinery29

The Drifter - Refinery29

Christine Lennon is a journalist and the author of the novel The Drifter, out now.

I cannot recall my exact whereabouts when I learned there was a serial killer on the loose in my small college town, prowling campus late at night, on the hunt for “petite brunettes”.

It was August of 1990. I had just moved into a sorority house at the University of Florida, where I was living with 50 other women. When I try to picture the moment, I see myself sitting at one of the long, polished wood tables in the dining room, mowing through my daily salad smothered in ranch dressing and crunchy Chinese noodles, hearing the news as it passed by in urgent whispers.

It would be an exaggeration to say that we were prepared for the arrival of Danny Rolling, a.k.a. the Gainesville Ripper. But in a way, we were: Our house was built to keep creeps like him out.

The doors could be dead bolted. Men had to leave before 10 p.m. The whole structure was a bit like a minimum security prison, designed to keep us in and psycho killers out. That made all the more sense after it was explained to me that our house was remodeled in the early ‘80s, after a serial killer named Ted Bundy snuck into Chi Omega on the Florida State campus and assaulted four women, killing two. Despite what must have been a noisy attack, no one woke up.

For that reason, our sleeping quarters were not designed for secrets or privacy: Small and windowless, the rooms featured bunk beds where up to ten girls slept alongside one another. (One thing that I learned in those days was that there is nothing that tests sisterly bonds like listening to ten women slap the snooze button — repeatedly — starting at 6 a.m.)

Read more of Christine’s story for Refinery29 here