Yvette Gay and Renwick Gibbs
I have gotten a bit of a late start today sitting down to compose cases due to the fact I was finishing up watching the Netflix series The Keepers, another true crime case. If you get the chance to see it you should. It is not only about an unsolved murdered, it is also about abuse within the Catholic Church. In the same respect, if you like to hear more on that type of subject then check out the movie Spotlight. While The Keepers takes place in Baltimore Maryland, Spotlight tells the story of how the local newspaper in Boston uncovered abuse within the Catholic Church there. Think of it as Woodward and Bernstein meets the church.
The case that I am going to discuss here today may be a bit difficult for me to convey but I will say that it was a huge lesson on just how a television show can slant, or distort the facts of a case in order to fit their agenda. Going into my research of this case I had not seen anything involved with this story, or maybe I had without realizing it. When I finished with my research last week I saw that it stated there was an episode of Evil Twins made about this case. I had every intention of coming here and saying I had not seen that particular episode. And, then as if it was divine intervention that same night after my husband went to bed and I fired up the DVR this episode happened to not just be on there, but the next in line to watch. Of course I jumped on it to see if I could add to my research or if it elaborated on anything I may have wondered about. In the end I was sorely disappointed at the episode and part of me wishes I had not watched it. Considering that the title of the show was Evil Twins, it focused on Yvette Gay and her twin sister Doris. While the show obviously could not tell their story without talking about Renwick Gibbs I felt as if they did not truly show him as he was. In the same respect, had they shown Gibbs as he was, or at least the way everything else in my research indicated, I doubt they could hardly call the show Evil Twins. Yes, both Yvette and her sister Doris were involved in the crime in some way or another but despite the efforts of the show if one knows the rest of the story they know that they were not evil per se, but they were easily manipulated, something the episode does not say, but I believe deliberately eludes to.
Since most of my research ended up being about the crime that occurred in May of 1990 and the subsequent arrests and trials of the participants, there was little when it came to background information on many of the perpetrators. In fact, when it came to Yvette and Doris there was little to none. In truth this was the only part of the Evil Twins episode that I found truthful and relevant. According to the episode Yvette and Doris were the two oldest children of a family that consisted of three or four younger siblings in a poor family. When the girls were teenagers their mother was sent to prison for welfare fraud. According to the show, both before and after their mother was sent their father not only did not work, he did not do much of anything except dictate orders to other family members and isolate them from everyone outside the home. The girls were allowed to get jobs but even there they lack social skills. They were in their twenties before they left the family home but by then Yvette had already met Renwick Gibbs.
Renwick Gibbs had married Anne Farris in 1985. By 1990, the couple who by now had at least two children together, had split up five or six times. According to Anne she left Renwick due to his abuse but that he would always find her and would threaten her life and the lives of her family if she did not return. Anne knew that Renwick was not a faithful man and she knew about the affairs the he had throughout their marriage, including Yvette, who worked with Anne at a local factory in Washington North Carolina. It was also apparently well known that Yvette had had at least once child with Renwick at this point, if not two.
In May of 1990 Anne once again left Renwick but this time instead of going to stay with friends or family she had gone to a battered woman's shelter. If you see the Evil Twins episode you get the impression that Yvette and Anne worked the same shift, and maybe they did although other information does not lead to that conclusion, but it was not the day shift that the show would lead you to believe. According to not just newspaper articles of the events that took place on May 29th and 30th, but also according to appeal records Anne worked the night shift at her job and Renwick knew this. Anne often borrowed a vehicle from her parents but before work on the night of May 29th Anne returned her parents' vehicle and her father took her to her job. Not long after arriving Renwick had showed up at Anne's work and according to Anne, was uncharacteristically calm in his attempts to reconcile with her despite her resistance. Despite the fact that security should have never allowed him into the facility he was but Anne's supervisors asked him to leave. Her co-workers and bosses were apparently aware of her domestic situation. The Evil Twins episode indicates that while supposedly Renwick was calmer than normal it was Anne who had been more verbal and that during this confrontation Anne had mentioned Yvette and told Renwick to go “back” to his “new wife.” Whether this was what was said or not is not completely clear. It is also unclear if Anne said anything to Renwick to particularly irritate him that night or not as evidence would show that what would later happen had likely been planned for some time.
After dropping his daughter off at work, Anne's father, William would return to his home that he shared with his wife, Louise and their two teenage children, sixteen year old Shamika and thirteen year old William Jr. William Sr. would go to bed only to set his alarm for 3:45 in the morning of May 30th. He would get up, reset the alarm for an hour for Louise to waken and he would get ready and leave for work. When he returned home around 1 pm there was a crowd of people at his home and police tape surrounded his home.
Deborah Blount, Renwick Gibbs' sister, would later tell the court that on the morning of May 30th Renwick had come to her home and asked her to accompany him to the Farris home in his attempts to convince Anne to reconcile. Deborah indicated that it was rather routine for him to ask her for help in convincing Anne to return to him. Some reports say that she agreed right away as she had some errands to do run first, while other reports claim that when he first asked at about 9:30 am she declined but agreed when he came back later. Regardless of what happened prior it is known that Deborah and Renwick went to the Farris home around 11:30 am. When they arrived Deborah knocked on the front door but there was no answer and she returned to the car where Renwick waited. She would later say that Renwick almost insisted that she go to the door that was under the carport and look but that for whatever reason she had resisted. She would say that he then went to that area and after a few seconds came back running and crying hysterically. Deborah would indicate that while she obviously could see her brother at least seemed hysterical, that she could not understand what he was saying so she went to the door herself. Nothing seemed out of place until she entered one of the bedrooms. It was there that she would see the bodies of Louise, Shamika and William Jr. She would leave the home and go down the street to contact authorities.
The police would arrive at the home to find Renwick still seemingly upset and screaming. They would enter the home and find the three victims had been bound, gagged and shot. Both of the children had been shot “execution style” in the back of the head while Louise had been shot in the chest. Authorities would find that the telephone wires had been loosened or cut and there was a brown paper bag at the scene with a “message.” The message was clearly left on purpose. The letters on the bag had come from portions of magazines and newspapers. You know the kind, that is often used in ransoms and these sorts of things. The message on the bag said “I told you about slapping my mother.” So odd and strange. While Louise seemed to be fully dressed, neither of the children apparently had time to dress after either being woke up by the perpetrator or waking up not long prior.
Obviously Renwick was a suspect in the very beginning. First he was married to the Farris' daughter, although it was falling apart. Secondly, it was know that there was obvious tension between the Farris family and Renwick, but thirdly he was the one who discovered the bodies. The police first interviewed him on the evening of May 30th, the day the bodies were found. He would tell investigators after leaving Anne's work the night before he had gone and stayed in a school bus that had been converted into a sort of home with Yvette and her twin sister Doris. He claimed that Doris had woke him to take her to work about 7:30 that morning and that after returning to the bus he decided to leave again around 7:55 and attempt to see Anne as she got off work but he was too late, as she had already left. He then claimed that he had returned to the bus until he went to see his sister later in the morning and the two of them had gone to the Farris home.
Whether it was information authorities had obtained through Doris, or just that things did not look right, or even something else, things did not settle well with authorities when it came to Renwick and Yvette. The crime scene seemed rather calculated and personal. It did not appear that the motive was any sort of robbery and the note that was left truly bothered them. On May 31st Renwick would give his second statement to authorities and he would readily confess to being the person who committed the murders even if all the details or the full confession may have not been truthful. In this statement he stated that he awoke about 5am and decided to break into the Farris home. He stated that he wore gloves as he entered the home and forced Louise to gather the children into the bedroom. He would claim that he forced William Jr. to bound and gag his mother and sister and that when he was done Renwick bound and gagged William Jr. He would then say that during this, despite being gagged Shamika had screamed out and he shot her. In his panic he shot the other two. Then, he would return to the bus, and while taking Doris to work he threw the rifle in the woods and disposed of clothing and other evidence along the way. He denied creating the note that was left in the home but admitted taking his sister with him to be a witness and to verify the family was dead when they were discovered. He would then take the investigators to where the gun could be found. Later that same evening Renwick would tell investigators about his relationship with Yvette. He would also tell them that he held anger towards the Farris' because when Anne would leave him, which had been often, they would not tell him where she was. He would tell authorities that neither Yvette nor Doris were involved in the crime and that he had gone to the Farris home to talk to Anne. This part of his statement, was false but it appears that the show Evil Twins ran with it and may have led to their idea of portraying that Anne worked during the day. All other evidence points to the fact that not only did Anne work the third shift but clearly Renwick knew this and knew her schedule. He also obviously knew she had been at work the night before since he had gone there. So to say that he only went to the Farris home to talk to Anne, apparently supposedly hoping she was there, makes no sense. By this time obviously investigators had spoken to Anne at length and they knew the relationship between her and Renwick and were informed of her claim that he had threatened and abused her previously. Renwick would deny these claims.
It took several statements from Renwick, Yvette, and Doris, along with piecing evidence together for authorities and prosecutors to determine exactly what they believe happened. Authorities would come to believe that Yvette and Doris had heard Renwick speak of killing the Farris family. They had helped him construct the bag with the message on about 2-3 weeks prior to the murders. Doris had also bought bullets for him around that same time but she would claim she never knew what they were for or that she truly believed the Farris' were in danger.
After seeing Anne at work the night prior and being told to leave by her supervisor it was said that Renwick returned to the converted bus and was very angry. Whether it was because he had been forced to leaver, because of something Anne said or simply because Renwick was not getting his way is unclear. When he went to go to sleep he apparently informed Doris to wake him at about 3:30 am. She would claim that she did so and that he then woke Yvette. Yvette and Renwick would leave the bus around 4:00 and head towards the Farris home. Investigators believe from statements and evidence that Renwick and Yvette watched as William Farris Sr. left for work before they put their plan into action. It was then that the two cut or loosened the phone wires and entered the home.
Yvette would eventually admit to being at the scene and helping gag the victims but not to their shootings. Authorities would seem to agree with that for the most part but it did not lessen Yvette's culpability. Renwick would say at some point that he threatened Yvette and Doris to help and Yvette's defense at her trial would claim that she was manipulated and abused by Renwick. The episode of Evil Twins would attempt to make one think that it was all Yvette and Doris who had come up with the plan and pulled Renwick in or that they were such willing participants because they were sociopaths who cared about no one. I am unsure that I can agree. I believe there was ample evidence that Renwick was a manipulator and I see little motive for either of the twins to murder the Farris family, especially when that did not include Anne. It would have been different possibly, at least in Yvette's case if one of the victim's was her romantic rival but it was clear that Anne was at work at the time of the murder and something Yvette would have known. Secondly, even if we are to believe that Renwick was not abusive to Yvette, or maybe even Doris, it is likely that Yvette was glad that Anne had left Renwick and was seemingly standing her ground in not returning. The only reason it seems that she would not be happy with this situation is if we believe that Renwick was abusive to her. One could argue that with Anne not being readily available to Renwick then Yvette would not only get the commonly known abuse but also have to deal with Renwick being angry at what he thought was Anne's betrayal. But, if we look at the latter as the way things were then we have to open the possibility that Renwick manipulated not just Yvette but also Doris into not just believing things but helping him.
Some have argued that Yvette never mentioned any sort of abuse to anyone until she testified at her trial, one that she shared with Renwick, in July and August of 1991. This is quite possible but I find it highly unlikely that Renwick was not just as abusive and manipulative to Yvette, and possibly Doris, as he had reportedly been to Anne. It seems that there was ample evidence that the twins were socially awkward to say the least as they had been isolated most of their lives by their father. There are reports that while Yvette and Renwick had the physical relationship that it was Doris that Renwick related to on a social level and that he was just as able to manipulate her only without sex.
After a five week joint trial Yvette and Renwick were convicted in murders. Their charges also included charges relating to the conspiracy and burglary. Both would be sentenced to death. Doris Gay was to later go on trial herself but would instead eventually plead guilty to three counts of second degree murder. She was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole. It is unclear just when she was released from prison. Some reports say it was in 2007 while others say it was 2012 but her whereabouts are apparently unknown.
Both Yvette and Renwick would have their death sentences overturned, but only their sentences, not their convictions. It seems that they were both ordered to be re-sentenced based on the fact that the jury was not adequately told of all mitigating factors or how to properly weigh them. Neither would face a re-sentencing hearing but would have their sentences commuted to life without parole. It does not appear that either will ever be released from prison.