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'I-65 Killer' identified: Authorities release name of man responsible for killing, assaulting several women in Indiana, Kentucky

After decades of investigation, authorities have released the name of the man who killed and assaulted several women along I-65.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As he's known in some cases, the 'I-65 Killer' or 'Days Inn Killer' could be responsible for as many as three murders and several other assaults from the 1980s and 1990s.

For more than 30 years, investigators have been working to find the man responsible. Now, Indiana State Police, Elizabethtown Police and the FBI have identified him.

On Tuesday, the agencies announced that by using ballistics and DNA analysis - including a new process called "investigative genealogy" - they were able to identify the suspect as Harry Edward Greenwell of Louisville, Kentucky. 

According to police, Greenwell had an extensive criminal history and had allegedly escaped jail on more than one occasion. He died in Iowa in Jan. 2013. ISP said he may have died from cancer.

"The animal who did this is no longer on this earth," said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.

The FBI said solving this case was a team effort between high-profile agencies like the FBI and smaller, local police departments, including Elizabethtown Police Department.

Family members of some of the victims were present at the press conference Tuesday, including Kim Gilbert Wright, whose mother, Jeanne Gilbert, was killed while working at a Days Inn in Remington, Ind. in 1989.

"Closure will take on its own different and unique face for all of us," she said.

Credit: AP
Family members of the victims of the "Days Inn" cold case murders listen as the Indiana State Police announces the identity of the suspect in the during a press conference in Indianapolis, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Police identified the suspect as Harry Edward Greenwell more than 30 years after three women were killed and another assaulted using investigative genealogy. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Authorities believe that Greenwell may have been responsible for other murders, assaults or robberies along I-65, which runs from Gary, Indiana to Mobile, Alabama. 

Now that he has been identified, authorities are working to determine if there are any other unsolved cases that he could be connected to.

Case Background

On February 21, 1987, Vicki Heath was sexually assaulted and shot twice in the head. Police found her body behind the dumpsters at the Super 8 Motel off of I-65 in Hardin County.

Elizabethtown Police Chief at the time, Ruben Gardner, worked the case as a detective when it happened and said even then he thought this murderer was someone traveling I-65 and this was a crime of opportunity.

"We did all the routine things that you do, compared it to every crime we could find around that had any similarities at all," Gardner told WHAS11 in 2013. But without any significant leads, the case went cold until 2008 when Detective Clinton Turner submitted DNA from well-preserved evidence.

"I say there's an 80% chance we could find him," said Turner.

Credit: WHAS11

Elizabethtown Police matched the DNA in Heath's case to at least four other cases in several states. In each case, the women were all motel clerks, they were all sexually assaulted and robbed and they all worked along I-65. 

Police said these incidents were the trail of a traveling serial killer.

The DNA also linked the murderer to two women who were sexually assaulted and killed in Indiana in 1989. 

One year later, in 1990, a woman in Columbus, Indiana was sexually assaulted and stabbed but survived. That was the first time police were able to get a description of the killer. She described the assailant as a man with green eyes and a lazy right eye.

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In 1991, a woman in Minnesota who was also sexually assaulted and stabbed gave police a similar description of her attacker. The victim described the suspect as a white male, 6'- 6'2'', with green eyes, the right eye was described as a lazy eye, and he had grayish-brown hair. He was wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans.

"That was why is was so difficult because most of our murders are local or have some type of domestic tie or something. Whereas this is a random murder and there are 16 million people that travel up and down 65 in a year's time," Elizabethtown Police Detective Clinton Turner told WHAS11 in 2013.

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