|Danny Harold Rolling, Florida's most notorious serial killer since Ted Bundy, died singing.
He was executed by injection Wednesday evening for the grisly murders of five college students during a 1990 spree that terrorized the college town of Gainesville, Florida.
Rolling, 52, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m., said Robby Cunningham, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections.
"Mr. Rolling sang a song," he told reporters. "It was almost hymnal."
The prisons spokesman added that he would call the hymn " 'None greater than thee, O Lord' because that was the hook."
Asked if he had any last words, Rolling said he did and then broke into the hymn, said witness Stephen Stock, of WESH-TV in Orlando.
Although prison officials eventually turned off the sound system, Rolling continued talking and singing for about two minutes. As the chemicals took effect, his breathing became labored and stopped, Stock said.
Relatives of Rolling's victims said they did not pay attention to his hymn.
Rolling's killing spree began in August 1990, when he broke into three apartments in Gainesville belonging to five students.
The bodies of Sonja Larson, 18, and Christina Powell, 17, were found at a townhouse they shared near the University of Florida campus.
Christa Hoyt, 18, who attended a local community college, was found decapitated the next morning at her apartment. Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada, both 23, were discovered dead a day later in the apartment they shared.
Bodies were posed
All were stabbed and slashed to death with a hunting knife. Three of the victims were sexually assaulted and all of the bodies were left posed; one victim's severed head was found on a shelf.
"When these crimes happened in 1990, they were by far the most horrific thing that had happened in Gainesville and in the University of Florida community," said Bill Cervone, a prosecutor in Gainesville.
He said he witnessed the execution, adding, "I'm not sure that the punishment fits the crime, but I do know this: Danny Rolling will never kill again."
Diana Hoyt, Christa Hoyt's stepmother, agreed. "I'm a nurse, and I've seen my patients die," she said. "And they died a much more horrific death than what this man suffered. He relaxed and went to sleep."
"I didn't appreciate his song," Hoyt said. "I didn't understand how he could sit there, after the horrendous crimes he committed, and talk about the angels watching over him."
Scott Paules, Tracy Paules' brother, said that although he witnessed Rolling's execution, "I didn't spend the last 16 years thinking about him. Very rarely did I read a complete article about him. I spent my time thinking about my sister."
The victim's mother, Ricki Paules, said she was "mad all the way through" the execution. Now that Rolling is dead, she said, "I'm done with it. He's out. Finis. Gone."
Larson's mother, Ada Larson, told CNN she still wears her daughter's high school ring. "It just warms my heart," she said. "It's a little symbol of Sonja."
Reminders of Ted Bundy
Rolling, a Louisiana police officer's son, pleaded guilty in 1994 to the murders, which called to mind serial killer Ted Bundy and the 1978 sorority house murders of two Florida State University students in Tallahassee. Bundy, who is believed to have killed dozens of women, died in Florida's electric chair in 1989.
Rolling was calm and cooperative in the hours before his execution, Cunningham told The Associated Press. He spent several hours with his brother, Kevin, and his brother's pastor, the AP reported.
The condemned man had a last meal of lobster, shrimp, baked potato, strawberry cheesecake and sweet tea.
Rolling arrived in Gainesville on a Greyhound bus, pitched a tent in the woods near campus and set out to become, as he would say later, a "superstar" among criminals, the AP reported.
He blamed the murders on abuse he suffered as a child and his treatment in prison, and claimed he had good and bad multiple personalities, according to the wire service.
In a 2002 letter to the AP, Rolling wrote: "I assure you I am not a salivating ogre. Granted ... time's passed; the dark era of long ago -- Dr. Jeckle & Mr. Hyde did strike up and down the corridors of insanity."
He told the AP he had killed one person for every year he was behind bars. He served a total of eight years in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi before the killings.