Who is Billy Mansfield? Serial killer linked to Spring Hill ‘house of horrors’

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)—The Spring Hill “house of horrors” where serial killer William “Billy” Mansfield hid at least four bodies appears to be a crime scene once again.

Forensic investigators have been seen searching the home all week, begging the question: Could there be more blood on Mansfield’s hands? Or someone else’s?

Mansfield, now 64, was convicted of killing five women in 1982. He is imprisoned for life at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton.

The eldest son of a convicted child molester had been in and out of prison since the 1970s. According to reports, his father, William Mansfield Sr. served 10 years in prison for committing lewd acts against young girls. In 1977, Mansfield Jr. pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge and was sentenced to six months in prison in Michigan. He was able to ease his sentence after testifying against his cellmate. Mansfield returned to prison a short time later for assaulting two teens and violating the conditions of his parole.

In 1980, Mansfield was reportedly working at a mushroom farm in Santa Cruz, California when he met 29-year-old René Saling at a bar. Authorities said Mansfield raped and strangled the mother of three and left her body in a ditch near a campground where he and his brother Gary were staying.

Mansfield and his brother Gary were both arrested a few days later in Nevada. The charges were dropped against Gary Mansfield after he agreed to cooperate with authorities.

While Saling’s death was being investigated in California, authorities in Hernando County found the bodies of four people at Mansfield’s parents home in Weeki Wachee, now Spring Hill. The bodies were in various stages of decomposition.

Authorities identified the victims as Elaine Ziegler, a 15-year-old girl from Warren, Ohio who went missing from a KOA campground near Brooksville while on vacation with her stepfamily, and 21-year-old Sandra Jean Graham, a Tampa native and employee of the Hillsborough Community College who was last seen leaving a bar on April 27, 1980.

The two other bodies have not been identified to this day.

Mansfield’s first prosecution ended in mistrial in August 1981, with jurors split 9-3 in favor of conviction. The same year, he was caught trying to escape from prison with fellow inmate Ben Barrigan. Mansfield reportedly got out of a recreation yard by unchaining himself and climbing up a roof. He was found 11 hours later. Barrigan was arrested later that day.

Mansfield was eventually found guilty of first-degree murder in Saling’s death and sentenced to 25 years to life. He later pleaded guilty to the four murders in Florida and one count of attempted sexual battery involving a fifth female victim, and was given four more life terms.

This week, authorities began searching the Mansfield family’s property in Spring Hill after his brother Gary was arrested on drug charges.

This photo shows Gary Mansfield, 63, after an Oct. 27 arrest for drug possession. (Source: Hernando County Sheriff’s Office)

News Channel 8 was at the home and saw dozens of forensics experts and investigators from Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the medical examiner’s office.

Authorities have yet to share more details regarding the search.

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