A suspected serial killer who had evaded law enforcement for more than a decade was arrested Sunday on first-degree murder charges, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office said.
Robert Hayes, 37, is accused of murdering Palm Beach County woman Rachel Bey who was found nude on the side of Beeline Highway in March 2016. She was 32 at the time of her death.
“We’ve been able to take who we believe is a serial killer off the streets,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said during a news conference on Monday. “And had we not done this, we’re pretty sure that he would’ve killed again.”
After three years of work, investigators matched DNA from a discarded cigarette with that of the male fluids found on Bey. Deputies also linked his DNA to three more unsolved murders between 2005 and 2006 in Daytona Beach. Haynes has not yet been charged in those cases.
“Without genetic geneolgy, predators like Mr. Hayes will continue to live in our neighborhoods, visit our parks, our libraries, restaurants and go to our nightlife, entertainment districts to continue to hunt for victims,” said special agent Troy Walker of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
PBSO said they still don’t know how Bey and Hayes met or how she ended up dead on the side of the road. Court records show that when a road crew worker found her, she had suffered a fractured jaw and had several broken teeth. An autopsy later revealed she had been strangled.
An investigation into Hayes’ life between 2006 and 2016 is still ongoing. Deputies said he was living in Daytona at the time of the unsolved crimes and in Palm Beach during Bey’s murder. His arrest happened in Palm Beach.
Hayes appeared in court on Monday in Palm Beach County and is being held without bond. If tried and convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.