Waterfield insists he was also a hostage. He said Gore had shown up at his shop – he had once worked there – and had tagged along as Waterfield drove to a storage facility to pick up a part. He said that as they were heading back to the shop, Gore suggested they drive by the beach. That's when they spotted Elliott and her friend and picked them up. He insists he didn't know Gore would kidnap and rape the girls. He said that when Gore pulled his gun, he feared that he would be shot if he tried to intervene.
Waterfield acknowledges a 30-year-old man shouldn't be offering marijuana to high school girls, but he insists he had no plans to have sex with them.
“I had to get back to work,” he said.
He also can't explain why Gore would let him leave the house if he wasn't involved.
“He knew I wanted nothing to do with that. I tried to talk him into putting the gun away. I don't know why he didn't shoot me, and the only thing I could think of is the good Lord above stopped all that,” Waterfield said.
He said he planned to call the police from his shop, but when he got there a customer wanted to talk. Before he could get to the phone, he says he saw police cars speeding in the direction of Gore's home so he figured something had happened. He drove there, but said police wouldn't listen when he tried to say he had information about the crime. Gore was already in custody and Waterfield was arrested soon after.
Gore confessed to six killings and took detectives to four bodies. He said Waterfield had been involved in all the killings, but Waterfield was only charged with three. First, Elliott's, because under Florida law anyone participating in a kidnapping can be charged with murder if the victim is killed, even if the defendant had no involvement in the actual slaying.
He was also charged with the murders of Byer and LaVallee after prosecutors said his signature was found on a credit card receipt, showing he had purchased gas from a station near where the pair disappeared and about the same time. They said that corroborated Gore's story. Prosecutors didn't charge Waterfield with any other killings because there was no evidence beyond Gore's statements.
Waterfield was tried first for Elliott's murder and prosecutor Bob Stone sought the death penalty. Waterfield's attorney, Michael Bloom, pushed for a speedy trial, something the defense almost never does in murder cases. He knew Gore was implicating Waterfield in the other murders. He also knew Gore wouldn't be a good witness and he wanted to get the trial started before investigators could find other evidence that might corroborate Gore's statements.
“Gore, when we interviewed him, he was talking to God. He was totally off the wall. That's why Stone didn't call him in the (Elliott) case. He was so incompetent when we saw him in his jail cell,” Bloom said. “I said that Bob's not going to call this guy, he's not that stupid. And the case was over.”
Without Gore's testimony, the jury only convicted Waterfield of manslaughter, apparently feeling he was negligent by not calling the police. He was sentenced to 15 years, a sentence he finished long ago.
Waterfield was then tried for the murders of Byer and LaVallee. Stone decided not to seek the death penalty, thinking perhaps some jurors didn't convict Waterfield of Elliott's murder because they didn't want him executed if he wasn't actually the killer. He didn't want the same thing to happen again.