A manhunt is underway for a man accused of a gruesome and heartless crime.
Authorities say 48-year-old Gary Danielle murdered a Sebring woman and dumped her body behind a dumpster in Tampa.
Now the victim’s family is pleading for justice.
Five months ago, Arthur Pietscher and his wife Linda were at their home one night in Michigan when a deputy knocked on their door. He delivered news about their daughter, Laura.
“When he said she was a victim of a homicide, that was what took my knees out from under me,” said Pietscher. “No parent should ever deal with this.”
On Oct. 19, 28-year-old Sebring resident Laura Pietscher was found dead behind a dumpster in Tampa.
Arthur says DNA of the killer was found under her fingernails.
“She fought back. She did what she could,” he said.
Officials have identified Danielle as the prime suspect in her murder.
He has a long rap sheet and has spent years in prison.
“He’s in our system, but nothing rising to the level of a homicide,” said Highlands County Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Dressel.
Laura Pietscher was a former correctional officer. Her family says she and Gary may have met in prison, but they don’t know how or why the pair ended up in Tampa.
“That’s a big question we’ve had, how did their paths cross?” said Arthur Pietscher.
Now, Danielle is on the run. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is teaming up with the US Marshals to look for him.
Family members are in mourning. Laura had a big heart.
While in Michigan she helped those with developmental impairments. She later moved to Florida to care for her ailing grandmother.
Arthur and Linda are praying for closure and they have a message for other parents.
“Hug your kids, you just don’t ever know. It’s not supposed to be this way, your kids are supposed to bury you,” said Pietscher.
Danielle could be anywhere in the Tampa Bay area.
Anyone with information about Danielle’s location is asked to contact Det. Trey Marley at 863-991-2202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anonymous tips can be left using the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office smartphone app or with Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.