By TARA SCHMELZ
NEW ALBANY —
Although the New Albany Police Department is looking to the FBI for help in the case of a man charged in multiple murders, the federal agency is not taking the lead in the investigation.
“We wouldn’t start taking over and we’re not taking over this case,” said FBI Special Agent Media Coordinator Wendy Osborne from her Indianapolis office. “That’s not our job and that’s not our role. Our role is to assist.”
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson previously said that 54-year-old William Clyde Gibson III implicated himself in the murders of 75-year-old Christine Whitis, of Clarksville, and 45-year-old Karen Hodella, who had been visiting Southern Indiana from Florida, according to family.
Whitis was found strangled in Gibson’s garage in April. Hodella’s remains were found in a wooded area along the Ohio River in January 2003. A third victim, 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk, of Charlestown, had been missing since March 25. Her body was found April 27 in the backyard of Gibson’s New Albany home along Woodboune Drive. Kirk’s preliminary cause of death is strangulation, according to Floyd County Coroner Leslie Knable.
NAPD Chief Sherri Knight said NAPD reached out to the FBI. However, she said no one from the FBI is in town.
“We don’t know if they will come here or not,” she said, adding that NAPD has been talking with special agents over the phone. “If they choose to come and be directly involved ... we haven’t reached that point yet.”
Knight said the FBI is helping identify other potential victims and tracking Gibson’s activity. She said the time lapse between the discovery of Hodella in 2003 to the recent victims is a “huge concern.”
“There’s a potential for more victims,” she said. “We don’t want to exclude that possibility.”
Osborne said the special agents with FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit 2 — the Virginia-based group that is assisting — are specially trained to assist in investigations. She said that they may offer interview techniques, profiles of unknown subjects, access to expert testimony and more. She said that sometimes having a new set of eyes on the case can help. However, she said she cannot comment on this specific case, since it is ongoing.
On Wednesday, a large trailer was parked in Gibson’s driveway and investigators loaded it with various items from Gibson’s home, including a couch, end tables and boxes of items. Knight said investigators will likely be searching Gibson’s home for several days.
Floyd County Chief Public Defender Patrick Biggs has been appointed as Gibson’s attorney. His office said he could not comment on this case, but did say that he is certified to defend someone in death penalty cases. Henderson has said this is a death penalty eligible case, but didn’t say whether he would pursue that punishment.
If convicted, Gibson faces 45 to 65 years in prison for each murder count or life without parole.
Knight and Ron Holmes, a crime expert and professor emeritus at University of Louisville, have both said that Gibson fits the definition of a serial killer.