Was The Mysterious Murder Of Jackie Galloway Inspired By A Serial Killer Novel?

Jacqueline Galloway in church during her sister Kim's wedding. [Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images]

She was the type of person who had the uncanny ability to find good in almost anything and everyone. Bright and bubbly, Jackie Galloway had numerous friends and was extremely close to her family. She seemed the least likely person to end up brutally murdered.

Jacqueline Galloway sitting on chair at her sister Kim Welch's home. [Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images]

Jacqueline Galloway sitting on chair at her sister Kim Welch’s home. [Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images]

On June 12, 1991, on a sunny day in Sarasota, Florida, Jackie had plans to meet Harry Dean, an elderly friend, for lunch. Harry arrived to Jackie’s apartment around noon to pick her up as planned, but he was greeted by an open, unlocked door. As he walked into the apartment, he noticed a curling iron still on, a partially eaten bowl of food, and the television blaring a news show. Jackie was nowhere in sight.

Harry waited for her for a while, but when Jackie’s sister showed up looking for her as well, Harry phoned the police, and so began and day-and-night-long search for Jackie, which yielded no results. It was as if she completely vanished.

The following day, Sarasota detectives received a call that some teens discovered a body inside a bed sheet, lying in the lot of an abandoned construction site. When authorities arrived to the scene, they uncovered the decomposing corpse of Jackie Galloway. She lay lifeless inside the sheet, with all of her fingernails ripped off to the skin, and a braided nylon drapery cord wrapped around her neck. Her arms were crossed over her chest, and her wrists showed signs of bondage.
The crime scene showed no signs of a struggle. Detectives surmised Jackie was likely murdered somewhere else, but dumped at the empty lot. Fibers that resembled materials found on car matts were embedded into the sheets and on Jackie’s body, but other than that, there wasn’t much evidence to go on.

Jealous Boyfriend, but Tight Alibi
Family members said that Jackie was in a relationship with a man named Bruce. When detectives interviewed him, Bruce said he hadn’t talked to her at all that day. However, it was known around the community that Bruce wasn’t happy with the friendship between Jackie and Harry. Police also learned that Harry bought Jackie a car and planned to help her get teeth fixed, which infuriated Bruce even further.


Bruce, known to have a quick fuse, became the first person of interest in the case. To make matters worse, Bruce had been accused of hitting Jackie on a few occasions, and just three days prior to the murder, he had a public outburst on the beach during which he screamed at and insulted Jackie.
After talking with detectives, Bruce agreed to take a polygraph test. He claimed he was at work when Jackie was killed, and although he admitted he was jealous of Harry’s relationship with her her, maintained that he had no idea who killed her. Not only did Bruce pass the polygraph test, but his employer gave him an air-tight alibi.
With Bruce ruled out as a suspect, investigators turned their attention to similar crimes in the neighboring city, Gainesville, where several college students were recently murdered. The grotesque killings left college kids decapitated and posed in eerie fashions that resembled Jackie’s murder. Yet, investigators couldn’t link “The Gainesville Ripper” killings to Jackie.
Stumped again, detectives turned their attention back to Jackie’s small, meticulous apartment for clues. The apartment didn’t have any clues that suggested any struggle took place, and detectives surmised that she likely knew her killer or at least knew of the person. The only clue in the apartment, was a letter Jackie had written and left behind.

Hostile Landlord Cleared
Jackie apparently didn’t have the best relationship with her landlord, Terry Allen. She told friends that he would frequently come in her apartment unannounced and act extremely hostile. In the letter, she asked him to let her out of her lease early. Jackie had lived in the apartment for only two months, and detectives thought it was odd that she already wanted to move.
Terry Allen wasn’t the ideal landlord by any means. Along with bursting in her apartment unannounced, he accused Jackie of running a brothel and wouldn’t allow her to have guests over. Authorities turned their attention to Terry, but again, they met a dead-end, when he, too, passed a polygraph and had a tight alibi.

A Break in the Case

John Waterman [Sarasota Sheriff's Office]

John Waterman [Sarasota Sheriff’s Office]

Authorities were discouraged. With little evidence and the usual suspects cleared, they were hoping for a miracle before the case went cold. Weeks passed, and while the case was lingering on and going unsolved, a lucky break happened after a chance encounter.

Detective Don Wenger of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, who lived only five blocks from Jackie, was walking into his home for the night when he noticed a blue Buick Park Avenue parked on his street. Winger knew of every car in the small neighborhood, and the Park Avenue didn’t belong there.
Suspecting the Buick was stolen, Wenger radioed in its license-plate number. While waiting on the results, he spotted a stranger in dark clothing walking out from behind a vacant home. The man told the detective he was simply looking at buying the house, but it was late at night, and the vacant home didn’t have a “For Sale” sign. But when the stranger then asked about Jackie Galloway, the detective immediately sensed danger. Why would a strange man bring up Jackie’s name, seemingly out of nowhere?
The man likely knew he made a mistake by mentioning her name, and told Winger he only asked because he was her next-door neighbor. Still, it was enough of a clue for Winger to ask him to unlock and open the car trunk. Winger noticed a gray matt in the trunk, with fibers consistent with the ones found on Jackie’s body.
Acting on instinct, Winger arrested the man, John Waterman, for loitering and prowling. While in custody, detective drilled Waterman about Jackie. He admitted he had never formally met Jackie, but as the interview progressed, Watermen became upset, nervous, and gave away many statements that indicated he basically stalked Jackie. Without a confession, though, they couldn’t charge him with murder.

While searching Waterman’s car however, they found enough evidence to get a search warrant for his home, where they found a seemingly innocent clue that helped break the case. A book, Post Mortem, by Patricia Cornwell, jutted out from a bookshelf, catching one of the detective’s attention. Inside, a chapter matched the exact way Jackie was killed. Although the book didn’t provide enough evidence to conclude that Waterman killed Jackie, it was enough for detectives to know in their hearts that they finally found their man.
The case was highly circumstantial. Along with the book, detectives had the car-matt fibers and a bag full of tools in his closet that were consistent with other rape crimes in the area. Circumstantial or not, it was enough to charge Waterman with Jackie’s murder.

Convicted and Released
Without DNA evidence, Watermen received a 45-year plea deal. In 2011, after doing just 20 years of his sentence, Waterman was released from prison, and the news sent the community into panic mode. After numerous protests, prosecutors convinced a judge to send Waterman to a sex-offender’s treatment facility, which would at least keep him off the streets a little while longer. He’s currently at a Department of Children and Families confinement center.
Waterman never confessed to the murder, and it’s likely that no one will ever know exactly what happened to Jackie on June 12, 1991. But friends and family say her infectious laughter, bubbly personality, and generous nature will never be forgotten.
Tune in for more episodes of the 10-part true-crime series, People Magazine Investigates, on Mondays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery. And watch full episodes with ID Go online.

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Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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Main photo: Jacqueline Galloway in church during her sister Kim’s wedding. [Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images]

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