Addicted to Murder: The True Story of Daniel Conahan Jr.
On August 2, 1996, Daniel Conahan was arraigned at the Lee County Courthouse on charges of attempted first-degree murder; two counts of sexual battery and one count of kidnapping. He entered pleas of not guilty on all counts. Lee County Assistant State Attorney Robert Lee said the not guilty plea was expected. A lengthy file on Conahan insinuated that he might be the killer of the five Charlotte County unsolved homicides, but the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office would not say if he was the prime suspect.
"We're still investigating the homicides," County Lt. Michael Gandy told reporters during a press conference. "I can tell you I believe the homicide cases will conclude satisfactorily."
On May 22, 1997, a county construction worker was clearing brush on a dirt path when he discovered skeletal remains under a pepper tree near Quesada Avenue.
Homicide detectives did not know if the body was linked to the deaths of the five other men. The victim was listed as John Doe #4. Because county workers were excavating at the time, any evidence that might have been left behind was destroyed.
It was beginning to seem that Conahan would never go to trial. With delays, dismissed lawyers and the death of his parents, time seemed to stand still. Conahan requested and received antidepressant medication and constantly accused his accusers of deception, perjury and witness tampering.
Conahan admitted he picked up men on the streets and took them into wooded areas for paid sex. He also admitted to photographing them and discussing bondage, but he claimed to have never tied anyone up.
"He's either an innocent man who's going to the chair or the most depraved, sick individual you'll meet," Conahan's defense attorney, Mark Ahlbrand told reporters from the Associated Press.
On March 16, 1998, investigators identified John Doe #4 as William "Billy" Charles Patten, by comparing the skeletal DNA with that of his parents' genes. The coroner surmised that Patten had been dead for several years. He had been employed as a landscaper and was reported missing by his family in 1993, nearly three weeks after he was last seen carrying a cooler of beer toward the Barron Collier Bridge. He was 24 years old at the time of his disappearance.