Russ Lemmon: Hero For Victims’ Families

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Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers columnist Russ Lemmon wasn’t looking for a crusade to lead two years ago when he happened upon a memorial notice in the newspaper placed by a grieving mother named Jeanne Elliott.

But when he telephoned her to ask about the tribute in honor of her deceased daughter, the veteran writer not only found a compelling story, but also a cause to champion.

Carl Elliott Jr., and Jeanne Elliott told Lemmon that their 17 year old daughter, Lynn, had been abducted, raped and murdered by Florida Serial Killer David Gore.  She was one of his six victims, all of whom suffered horrible deaths. Only one brave girl, who was only 14 years old at the time,  survived after he abducted her.

Lemmon began tracking down other family members. He listened to their stories and, more importantly, he began writing a series of columns about them. He became especially close to the Elliotts. 

Gore had been sentenced to death nearly thirty years ago, but no one seemed to care.

Why? Lemmon asked. 

At one point a reader complained in an email comment about Lemmon’s columns. The reader wanted him to write about happier topics. He didn’t want to read about the Elliotts, their suffering and Vero Beach’s most infamous murderer.  Lemmon was embarrassing the community.

But Lemmon refused to stop. Earlier this year, my publisher sent him a copy of The Serial Killer Whisperer and he became angry when he read letters that Gore had written about his crimes. In them, Gore bragged about how much he’d enjoyed “hunting” women and inflicting “maximum” pain. Gore showed no remorse, no regret, and no feelings for any of his victims.

On the same day Lemmon wrote an angry column about Gore’s letters, the editorial board for his newspaper happened to be meeting with Florida Governor Rick Scott. Lemmon showed the governor his column and mentioned Gore’s letters.  The governor reacted by greenlighting Gore’s execution.

Tomorrow — on Thursday, April 12th — David Gore is scheduled to be put to death.  Many of the families whose loved ones he murdered will be attending his execution. After years of being dragged through trials and appeals, they will see him face-to-face for a final time during the last seconds of his life.

Russ Lemmon will be there too with them watching David Gore die. When it is over, he will write a column about it. His crusade to get justice for the victims’ families will end.  But his friendship with the Elliotts and other victims will not.

They consider him a hero.

If you wish to read more about this case click here.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.