Murder on the Ohio River
Serial Killer: William Clyde Gibson
In 2002, Karen Hodella was visiting Jeffersonville, Indiana. She was a 44-year-old woman from Port Orange, Florida. She went missing in October 2002.
On November 1, 2002, a 45-year-old man named William Clyde Gibson was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and receiving stolen property. In January of 2003, Gibson led police to the location where Karen Hodella’s body was buried. He had stabbed her and buried her body in the woods near the Ohio River. He later got a tattoo of a knife on his lower right arm with the date 10-10-02. When asked if that is the day he killed Karen Hodella, Gibson said yes and that it was also his birthday.
Gibson was born on October 10, 1957. He was arrested multiple times throughout his life. His charges included public intoxication, public indecency, receiving stolen property, auto theft, and sexual assault. He was convicted of 10 charges in eight different cases between 1992 and 2007. The last time he was arrested was on March 6, 2007. He was released on September 8, 2009. Gibson was discharged from the Army in 1979 for bad conduct. He spent a year in the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1992, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for robbery and sexual abuse of a woman in a Louisville mall. In the 1991 assault, he pushed the woman into a phone booth where he fondled her and stole her purse. He claimed that he had been drinking and using cocaine. In 1992, Gibson told a psychologist “It’s hard to predict what I might do” when drinking heavily. In 1999, a psychologist stated that he was at low risk for being arrested again as a sex offender.
According to his neighbor, Susie Ledbetter, Gibson was always friendly in his neighborhood. She said he would always say hi to her. That was until his mother, Jeraline, was put into a nursing home in August of 2011. Jeraline passed away on January 18, 2012.
On April 19, 2012, Gibson’s sister found their mother’s best friend, 75-year-old Christine Whitis of Clarksville, strangled in his garage in New Albany, Indiana. Her body was found next to a chain saw and a roll of plastic bags. This led investigators to believe that Gibson intended to try to get rid of at least some of her body parts. Christine had been sexually assaulted and sodomized. Her shirt was only on her right arm. Her pants were around her ankles. Her bra was unclasped, but it was still on. One of her breasts had been cut off with a kitchen knife. Her lower back and several of her ribs were fractured. She also had several cuts and bruises on her face and genital area as well as a bite mark on her genital area. Police found Gibson driving Christine’s van at a Walmart only a half-mile from the crime scene. Christine’s breast was found inside the glove compartment of the van. Gibson had also tried to cut off her other breast. At the trial, the defense claimed that Gibson never intended to kill Christine and that he was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. They claimed that Gibson had called Christine over, so he had somebody to talk to and that he only wanted to have sex with her.
Just eight days after Christine Whitis was found in Gibson’s garage and Gibson’s arrest, Gibson led police to the body of a woman buried in his backyard on April 27, 2012. Before leading police to his backyard, Gibson had sent them to two other false locations in search of the body. Stephanie Kirk was a 35-year-old woman from Charlestown, Indiana. She had been missing since March 25, 2012. Her autopsy revealed that she had been strangled, sexually assaulted, sodomized, and her back had been broken. Gibson said he strangled Stephanie for pleasure.
In June of 2012, William Clyde Gibson wrote a letter to The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky in response to their request for an interview. He told them that he would only answer their questions through the mail and that he would accept the death penalty and stated, “After all, I am guilty.” Gibson was sentenced to death on November 26, 2013, for the murder of Christine Whitis. When the judge sentenced him, Gibson stated “I deserve what I’m getting. It ain’t no big deal.” He was sentenced to 65 years in prison on April 17, 2014, for the murder of Karen Hodella. He was sentenced to death on August 15, 2014, for the murder of Stephanie Kirk.