Three years after a sex worker in Florida was found dead on the side of a highway, police used DNA evidence to arrest her accused killer on Monday.
He’s also been linked to the deaths of three other women — and he lived in Charlotte at various points in between, media outlets report.
Robert Tyrone Hayes, 37, was arrested on first-degree murder charges relating to the death of 32-year-old Palm Beach County woman Rachel Bey in March 2016, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a press conference Monday.
Bey’s two brothers were present during the conference. They did not answer questions but spoke with Sheriff Ric Bradshaw beforehand.
“The first thing they said was, ‘Thank you for not giving up,’” Bradshaw said. “I told them the same thing I’m going to tell this community: the team that you’re looking at up here will never, ever, ever give up.”
Hayes is being held without bail.
Ties to Charlotte
Hayes’ DNA has also been linked to three more cold cases from 2005 and 2006 in Daytona Beach, the Miami Herald reported. He has not yet been charged in those cases.
Detectives said they are still trying to piece together Hayes’ life during the 10-year span between killings, but public records point to possible residencies in North Carolina.
Hayes lived in Charlotte on two separate occasions in 2008 and 2011, according to WSOCTV.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesperson told McClatchy news group Tuesday she could not locate any arrest records for Hayes in the department’s reporting systems.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Hayes listed his address in Charlotte during two run-ins with law enforcement in Florida — once in 2014 when he was reportedly cited for running a red light and again during a traffic stop in 2017.
Other addresses include Riviera Beach, Florida, Daytona Beach, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia, Heavy.com reported.
Hayes was arrested at his home in Palm Beach without incident, per the the Miami Herald.
A cigarette butt led police to Hayes
Investigators developed a complete DNA profile of an unidentified man using swabs from Bey’s rape kit during Bey’s autopsy, according to an affidavit.
That same DNA was reportedly matched in late 2016 to the unsolved cases in Daytona Beach.
“That case consisted of at least three female homicide victims, two of which had male DNA profiles consistent with each other and also consistent with the profile from Rachel Bey,” the affidavit states.
Police said Hayes lived in Daytona Beach in the same area the women were last seen before their deaths. He also reportedly owned a 40 caliber firearm — the same weapon used on two of the victims, according to the affidavit.
But agents didn’t recover DNA evidence from Hayes until earlier this month, when they collected a cigarette he had been smoking at a bus stop in Florida, the sheriff’s office said.
His DNA from the cigarette matched the profile collected during the initial Bey investigation, police said.
“The observed DNA profile is greater than 700 billion times more likely to occur if the sample originated from Robert Tyrone Hayes than from an unrelated individual,” the affidavit states.