GAINESVILLE, - Authorities in Gainesville have released a suspect's name, along with new information, in the case of Tiffany Sessions. The 20-year-old University of Florida student from South Florida disappeared in February 1989 while walking along a wooded area near her apartment.
The case gained nationwide attention.
The suspect is identified as serial killer Paul Rowles. He died in Feb. 2013 in a South Florida prison where he was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
Following his death, authorities seized his personal items and found information they say links him to Tiffany's disappearance and murder.
On Thursday, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said investigators, through DNA evidence, linked Rowles to another Gainesville murder. The remains of Elizabeth Foster were found in a wooded area where Thursday's news conference was held.
While there is no direct evidence linking Rowles to Tiffany's murder, Sheriff Darnell said it is "high, highly probable" that Rowles murdered Tiffany.
"Every other indicator is there," Darnell said. "He was in this community. He murdered in this community. He made comments about this site (where Foster's remains were found) being a dump site and it turned out to be the case when Beth was found here in 1992."
Darnell said Rowles was in the same general area at the same time Tiffany disappeared. She went on to say Rowles worked at a business in the area but did not work on the day and night of Tiffany's disappearance.
A highly compelling piece of evidence, Darnell said, was an entry on a calendar in Rowles' cell. "The notation: 'number two, 2/9/89,' which is the day that Tiffany went missing and has never been seen since and is presumed to be dead," Darnell said.
Investigators are now combing through the wooded area where Foster's remains were found in their search for Tiffany.
Darnell said the case remains open and asked for help from both the media and the public in piecing together a timeline for Paul Rowles.
She asked for those who might know something to think back 25 years.
"There's no risk," Darnell said. "Thank goodness he's dead. He has harmed so many people along the way. So don't be afraid...to come forward with that piece of information and don't be afraid that it may not mean much. Let us assess it."