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Daniel Conahan
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Mug shot of Daniel Conahan.
Born Daniel Owen Conahan Jr.
May 11, 1954(1954-05-11) (age 66)
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
Other names The Hog Trail Killer
Occupation Licensed practical nurse

Daniel Owen Conahan Jr. (born May 11, 1954) is a convicted American murderer and suspected serial killer. Conahan was convicted of one murder but has been linked to over a dozen murders, mostly of homosexual men in the Charlotte County, Florida area in what came to be known as the Hog Trail Murders.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

Conahan was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and moved with his family to Punta Gorda, Florida shortly after birth. His parents expressed displeasure at his homosexuality during his high school years and sent him to a psychiatrist. He graduated Miami Norland High School in 1973 and joined the United States Navy in 1977, stationed at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. In 1978, he was nearly court-martialed for homosexual solicitation and was discharged a few months later after more homosexual behavior triggered a large fight.[1]

After his Navy discharge, Conahan stayed in Chicago for 13 years before moving back to Punta Gorda to live with his elderly parents in 1993. In 1995, he became a licensed practical nurse, graduating at the top of his class from Charlotte Vocational-Technical Center.[1] He was employed by Charlotte Regional Medical Center in Punta Gorda.[2]

Murders[edit | edit source]

On February 1, 1994, the mutilated corpse of a man was discovered in Punta Gorda. The body had been outside for about a month and had rope burns on the skin and the genitalia had been removed and discarded. The man was never identified.[3] On January 1, 1996, a North Port family's dog brought home a male human skull. Police eventually pieced together much of a skeleton and determined that the genitalia had been cut out, similar to the 1994 victim. The North Port skeleton was also never identified.[4] A third man's mutilated body was discovered in North Port on March 7, 1996. He had been killed only 10 days earlier.[5] He also remained unidentified until June 1999 when he was identified as John William Melaragno.[6]

Another man's skull was found in Charlotte County on April 17, 1996. Police searched the surrounding woods and found the rest of the man as well as a second body. The second was a man who had been raped, murdered and mutilated only the day before, and was identified as Richard Allen Montgomery.[7][8][9] The first body was later identified as Kenneth Lee Smith.[10][11] Speculation became rampant about a serial killer and the media dubbed the murders "The Hog Trail Killings".[11]

Arrest[edit | edit source]

In May 1996, a few witnesses directed police to Daniel Conahan, including one who had escaped him when Conahan's car became stuck while driving him down a dirt road.[12] Later, police linked Conahan to a 1994 Fort Myers police report where Stanley Burden had been propositioned, tied to a tree, and nearly strangled. Burden survived and had rope scars on his body two years later.[13]

Conahan's credit cards were subpoenaed and his house was searched turning up evidence linking him to Burden and Richard Montgomery. On July 3, 1996, Conahan was arrested and brought to Lee County for the attempted murder of Burden.[13] The following February, he was charged with the murder of Montgomery while the Burden attempted murder charges were dropped.[6][7]

While Conahan awaited trial, another skeleton was found in Charlotte County on May 22, 1997. 10 months later, DNA identified the remains as William Charles Patten who had disappeared in 1993.[14]

Trial and more skeletons[edit | edit source]

In Punta Gorda, Conahan waived his right to a jury trial on August 9, 1999. The star witness was Stanley Burden who had been nearly killed in 1994. Conahan's attorney rebutted that Burden was an imprisoned pedophile, serving a 10- to 25-year sentence in Ohio.[15] On August 17, 1999, Judge William Blackwell deliberated for 25 minutes and found Conahan guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and kidnapping.[16] Conahan succeeded in moving the penalty phase of his trial to Collier County but, in November, a jury recommended a sentence of death and Judge Blackwell agreed on December 10.[17]

Several more bodies were discovered in the Charlotte County area with similarities to the Hog Trail Killings: one in 2000, two in 2001, and one in 2002.[18][19] On March 23, 2007, eight skulls and skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in Fort Myers, the largest such discovery in Florida history.[20][21] Although a connection to a closed funeral home was considered possible, speculation soon turned to Conahan. Stanley Burden, the star witness at Conahan's trial, had been attacked within a mile of the site where the eight skeletons were found.[22] Two were later identified as men who had disappeared in 1995.[23]

Conahan is currently housed at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida.[22]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 10 Archived 2008-01-03 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  2. "Daniel Conahan Jr.". ZoomInfo.com. Zoom Information, Inc.. 2000-12-23. Archived from the original on 2010-10-08. https://web.archive.org/web/20101008000927/http://www.zoominfo.com/search#search/profile/person?personId=67681399&targetid=profile. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  3. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 2 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  4. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 3 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  5. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 4 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  6. 6.0 6.1 David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 12 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Conahan, Daniel Archived 2008-02-16 at the Wayback Machine. from Commission on Capital Cases.
  8. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 1 Archived 2008-01-13 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  9. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 5 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  10. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 6 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  11. 11.0 11.1 David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 7 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  12. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 8 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  13. 13.0 13.1 David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 9 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  14. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 11 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  15. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 13 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  16. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 14 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  17. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 15 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  18. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 16 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  19. David Conahan Jr, the Hog Trail Murderer, Chapter 17 Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. by David Lohr for the Crime Library.
  20. Eight skulls, skeletal remains found in Fort Myers from NBC-2, March 24, 2007.
  21. New clues revealed in Ft. Myers bones case from NBC-2, July 5, 2007.
  22. Two of eight skeletons found in Fort Myers identified from NBC-2, November 20, 2007.

External links[edit | edit source]

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