Capital Gazette Victim Once Worked in South Florida Covering the AIDS Epidemic

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Often the topics I choose to write about prove difficult to research, but sometimes I find myself with too many directions to turn in.  That was the case when last year I did a story about Dr. David Acer, the Jensen Beach dentist that allegedly infected several of his patients with HIV in the late 1980s.    

There are 3 books and many newspaper articles about the case but the single most resourceful piece I found came from Rob Hiaasen’s award-winning investigation into the matter that was published over the course of a few days in The Palm Beach Post in 1991.   

The CDC was quick to blame the alleged infections on Dr. Acer after he died of AIDS in 1990, but Hiaasen’s investigation was unbiased and informative and it pointed me to all the right sources.  It never implicated Dr. Acer simply because of his sexuality or his life choices.  It was Hiaasen’s story that truly sealed the case as a complete mystery. 

Hiaasen was one of the 5 people shot and killed on Thursday June 28 in the Capital Gazette newsroom shooting in Annapolis, Maryland.  He was the older brother of Florida Author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen.  He was born in Fort Lauderdale and a journalism graduate of the University of Florida. 

He once lived in Delray Beach and was a regular feature writer for The Palm Beach Post in the late 80s and early 90s mostly covering local politics.  He left the area in 1993 to work for The Baltimore Sun.  There he wrote more on true crime and even penned a short story titled “Over My Dead Bod,” published in “Baltimore Noir” which was a collection of stories written by several journalists for the newspaper. 

True journalistic talent gone to another mass shooting in America.  Rob was only 59 years old and leaves behind a wife, Maria, whom he married in 1985 and 3 children. 


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