Over Four Decades Later, Serial Killer Confesses To Murdering Teen On Spring Break In 1980
In March 1980, teen Carol Ann Barrett was kidnapped from the Daytona Beach motel room she shared with her friends on Spring Break. After over 40 years, the murder was solved when serial killer Billy Mansfield, Jr. confessed to her murder.
Billy Mansfield, Jr., a 65-year-old convicted serial killer, has confessed to murdering a teenager on spring break in 1980. Carol Ann Barrett, 18, was a senior in high school who lived with her family in Zanesville, Ohio, and she was excited to head south to Daytona Beach with her friends to celebrate their upcoming graduation.
On March 23, 1980, Barrett was kidnapped from the Treasure Island Motel in Daytona Beach Shores. Mansfield forced his way into the motel room Barrett was sharing with her friends. He robbed them, then took Carol, reported WJXT. After driving over 100 miles to Jacksonville, Mansfield murdered Barrett and left her body on the side of an interstate freeway. Her body was discovered the next day.
A thorough investigation was conducted in the aftermath of the kidnapping and murder. According to PEOPLE, her friends who were in the room and saw Mansfield kidnap Barrett spoke with police and a sketch of the kidnapper/murderer was developed. Unfortunately, the case went unsolved and eventually went cold.
In 2017, the case was reopened. In 2020, Mansfield, who would have been 24 years old at the time of the murder, became a prime suspect. He was interviewed multiple times over a span of two years, and he ultimately confessed to the murder.
Mansfield had already been convicting of murdering five women and was first sentenced to life in prison in 1982, only two years after Barrett’s death. His first known murder occurred in 1973 and the last known murder happened a month after Barrett’s murder.
In 1981, Billy Mansfield, Jr. was caught and sent to prison for raping and strangling René Saling, a young mother of three, and dumping her dead body in a ditch near a campground where he and his brother were staying. While police were investigating that murder, they found four additional sets of human remains at Mansfield’s home. At the time, only two of the victims were identified; Elaine Ziegler, a 15-year-old girl from Ohio, and Sandra Jean Graham, a Tampa woman who went missing on April 17, 1980. The other two remained a mystery until 2022 when one of the sets was officially identified as Theresa Caroline Fillingim.
Despite having Mansfield’s confession, authorities ultimately decided not to prosecute Mansfield for Carol Ann Barrett’s murder. He is currently serving a life sentence for murder in California and faces four concurrent life sentences for murders in Florida. So, the Jacksonville police told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that Mansfield will instead remain in the California prison where he’s currently serving time. While behind bars, he is cooperating with police on other cold cases, reported PEOPLE.
Claire Gilligan, Barrett’s niece who was only three years old when her aunt was murdered, still remembers her with love. Although she was so young and has no memory of a day when she almost drowned in a pool as a child, she grew up being told how her Aunt Carol saved her life.
“[She] jumped in and pulled me out and gave me CPR until the ambulance came. She was a hero multiple times over,” Gilligan told WJXT.
Now that Gilligan has answers about the murder, she hopes people will remember Carol as she was in life. In addition to being a hero who saved her life, Gilligan told WJXT that she hopes her aunt is remembered as “a loving daughter, sister, friend, you know, anyone that you think about someone that you could trust, and go to, and feel comfortable. That was Carol.”
Theresa Caroline Fillingim, 17, went missing on May 16, 1980 in Tampa. Four decades later, advances in technology identified her body as a victim of serial killer Billy Mansfield, Jr.