William Clyde Gibson III

When I sit down to put a case together I need for things to be nice and quiet and to not be in the middle of things. I have recently taken up the task of attempting (again) to stop smoking and one of the key issues is to stay busy. Sitting in a quiet room with just my notes and my computer makes it more difficult so I have already researched the next four cases that I plan to blog about. All four cases are similar in nature as they are death penalty cases but they are also similar in other ways. By the time I had finished with my research I was nearly sick not necessarily of hearing the words “mitigating circumstances” but the excuses given that defense attorney's felt qualified. I get so tired of hearing that defendants had a “bad childhood” or the “poor” guy was under the influence of drugs or alcohol so we should just excuse his behavior.

It is said that despite the fact that William Gibson is serving time for three murders, all of which he has admitted to, that there are many more victims that he has not told the authorities about. To be classified as a serial killer one must have murdered at least more than once and have what they call a “cooling off” period in between. It depend on who you talk to as to how long that time should be, but either way William Gibson would qualify. His last murder, that of seventy-five year old Christine Whitis would be the murder that would uncover his behavior.

On April 19, 2012 William Gibson's sister went into the garage of his New Albany Indiana home. It is unclear just what had caused her to go into the garage, or if she also even lived at the home but she would discover the body of family friend, Christine Whitis in garbage bags and called the authorities. William had apparently left in Whitis' van. A medical examiner would determine that the elderly woman's cause of death was strangulation but that is far from all the woman endured. She had been bound and tortured and there was evidence that Gibson attempted to have sex with Whitis after her death.

It seems that not long after his arrest Gibson would confess to another crime that had puzzled investigators in the area. In January 2003 the body of forty-four year old Karen Hodella was found near the banks of the Ohio River. Hodella was in Indiana visiting family from Florida when she had disappeared in October of 2002. Gibson admitting meeting Karen at a bar, at some point stabbing her several times, placing her body in his truck and dumping her body.

It is unclear if Gibson readily admitted to also killing thirty-five year old Stephanie Kirk who had gone missing on March 25, 2012, less than a month before he would kill Christine Whitis. What is known is that authorities began digging up the backyard of Gibson's home and found her body on April 27th. Like Whitis, Stephanie's cause of death was listed as strangulation and an attempt was made to sexually assault her after her death. And, like Hodella, Gibson had met Stephanie at a bar.

William Gibson would be put on trial in November of 2013 in the death of Christine Whitis. A jury from another county was brought to New Albany for the case. It was believed that Whitis, who lived in the nearby town of Clarksville had gone to his home to comfort her from the recent death of his mother. Whitis and Gibson's mother had been best friends and her son described Gibson as being like a cousin. Gibson's mother had died in January after only a few months in a nursing home. The defense would apparently not argue that Gibson had not committed the crime, it seemed rather evident that he had, but they argued that he was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana at the time of the crime. After five days of testimony it took the jury less than twenty minutes to find him guilty. At his sentencing Gibson would say, “I deserve what I am getting. It ain't no big deal.” The judge would sentence him to death.

Gibson would take a plea deal in the death of Karen Hodella on April 17, 2014 and receive a sentence of sixty-five years. When he showed up to sentencing he was sporting a tattoo on the back of his head that said “Death Row X3.” First there was some controversy as to how he had been able to obtain the tattoo to begin with considering he did not have it prior to his previous case and had been on death row since that time. Secondly, the judge in the case ordered that he was to have no more haircuts in prison until the final case against him was settled. He did no want the tattoo to be a reason to prejudice a jury.

Jury selection for his third case would begin in August of 2014. This time the trial was scheduled to be held in nearby Evansville Indiana with a jury being brought in once again from another county it seems. Just after jury selection began it was decided that Gibson would plead guilty. The judge held a sentencing hearing to hear arguments from both sides. The defense would argue that Gibson, who had a long criminal record that I will get into in a bit, had a long history with alcoholism and bi-polar disorder. They would claim that Gibson was remorseful and his confession had led to the solving of two cases. According to Gibson after meeting Stephanie Kirk a the bar, “smoking pot” and “popping pills” they had gone back to his house where they had sex. He would claim that they later had an argument over Gibson taking some of her marijuana and pills. The prosecutors would argue that Gibson's tattoo disputed that he was remorseful and that he deserved nothing less than the death penalty one more time. The judge obliged.

It was said through my research that William Gibson had run ins with law enforcement over the years and this was not his first term in prison. New Albany is very close to the Indiana/Kentucky line and so not all of his criminal activity occurred in the same state. In fact, not all of his criminal activity was even in the same country. In 1979 he had been discharged from the Army for “bad conduct” and had spent a year in Leavenworth Military Prison after stealing a vehicle when stationed in Germany. While the Kentucky Department of Corrections apparently only show current incarcerated inmates I was able to determine that in 1991 he had attacked a woman at a mall in Louisville. He pleaded guilty to robbery and sexual assault and was sentenced to seven years. This caused him to have to register as a sex offender. It was said that in 1992 he told a psychologist “it's hard to predict what I might do” when he would drink heavily. A few years later another psychologist would say that he was a “low risk” for being arrested again as a sex offender.

The Indiana Department of Corrections website is one of the better ones that I have come across. Whether the person is currently incarcerated or not they list any offense that have caused them to serve time in a corrections facility by the state. That being said I was able to determine that in March of 2007 Gibson was convicted for auto theft and receiving stolen property. He received a four year sentenced and served about two and a half, being released in September of 2009.

The appeals court at this point (early 2018) have upheld his convictions and sentences. That does not mean however that he will see the execution chamber any time soon. Indiana has not executed anyone since 2009 and as you will see in some upcoming blogs there are a few ahead of him in line.

In a 2015 television interview Gibson eluded to the fact that there were many more victims but it seems he has either not shared this information with law enforcement or they have not been able to confirm. In my opinion it could be either way. I agree with the prosecutors that the tattoo he has gotten on the back of his head says a lot about Gibson. I too see it as not being remorseful and almost in a bragging way. Those who murder often proclaim more victims just to keep investigators holding on and sometimes to delay their own sentences from being carried out. It is unclear if we will ever know just how many victims William Gibson had.


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