New Albany sex offender could face death penalty if convicted


by Bryan Baker

Posted on April 30, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 1 at 12:24 PM

NEW ALBANY, In. (WHAS11) – Prosecutors have so far declined to charge William Clyde Gibson for 35-year old Stephanie Kirk's death. Police say Kirk's remains were found in Gibson's backyard buried near a deck after a day-long excavation last week.

Authorities are awaiting the medical examiner's report on Kirk's cause of death before the decision to charge him is made. Toxicology reports could be weeks away.

Gibson is accused of killing two other women: 75-year old Christine Whitis, a friend of his deceased mother's who he allegedly strangled at his home and 44-year old Karen Hodella in 2002. Hodella's body washed up in the Ohio River a few months later.

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said Gibson is eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of the two murders. But does that make him a serial killer?

"Our allegations are at this point those are two unrelated murders with no apparent link, and I know that's part of the definition [of a serial killer]," said Henderson.

Gibson has a previous criminal record in both Indiana and Kentucky. He has been sentenced to years in prison for several crimes going back to 1991 – robbery, assault, and sexual abuse, but this is the first time he has been charged with murder. He is facing two counts and could be facing a third.

If Gibson is accused of Kirk’s death, that would make a total of three unrelated murders. Kirk had not been heard from since March 25, when her friend told police she was going to meet a man at a New Albany bar to pick up a motorcycle and then go on a bike ride. Kirk lived in Charlestown with her father.

Authorities are remaining quiet on the possibility of more victims. The clues could be found in Henderson's careful words about what is to come in the investigation.

"The police continue to follow up on leads in this matter, and I would anticipate that as information becomes available that there would be more forthcoming," added Henderson.

A judge granted Henderson's request to seal the record of Gibson's first court appearance last week.

"It's important that the integrity of the investigation, of the best of the ability to the police and the prosecutor, that the integrity of the investigation stay intact that they can get where they need to get to that evidence is not destroyed, that statements are protected," said Henderson.

Investigators have also alerted police in other areas check on any connection between Gibson and unsolved missing person’s cases.

Because of so-called community interest, the prosecutor said there could be daily updates on the investigation.