By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY —
More video interviews of accused serial killer William Gibson III and testimony from police officials have begun to paint a picture of the events surrounding the murder and sexual assault of a 75-year-old family friend.
During one of the videos shown Tuesday on the second day of Gibson’s capital murder trial in the death of Christine Whitis, Gibson revealed he wanted to have an intimate relationship with her.
“We always talked. I called her my girlfriend,” Gibson, 56, said during one of the interviews shown to the jury — made up of Dearborn County residents — in Floyd Superior Court No. 1.
He also made it clear that Whitis was not interested.
“She said, ‘I was old enough to be your mother,’” Gibson said in the video.
While the nature of their relationship has not been discussed in court, the two were at least close enough that Whitis, a Clarksville resident, visited Gibson’s home when asked, as she did the day she was murdered.
“We was always real good friends,” Gibson told an investigator days after Whitis was found dead in the garage attached to his home, also saying that he had known Whitis nearly all his life, and she even baby-sat him when he was a child. “That’s why I don’t understand why I did what I done.”
Whitis has been described as the best friend of Gibson’s mother, who died in January 2012.
Gibson put his plan into motion when he called Whitis about 10:50 a.m. April 18, 2012, and Whitis returned the call minutes after noon. Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said Whitis arrived at the Woodbourne Drive in New Albany home about 1 p.m.
Gibson has stated that he told Whitis he was still grieving over his mother’s recent death and wanted to talk with her for comfort. He told police he had planned on attempting a sexual encounter before she had arrived.
By using the recordings and responses from five New Albany Police Department officers called to testify in the first two days of the trial, the prosecution has illustrated what took place after Whitis came to Gibson’s home.
The state claims that Gibson attempted to fondle Whitis’ breasts soon after she arrived, and when she declined his advance, Gibson became enraged and strangled the woman. Whether Whitis died from the strangulation instantly or during the following hours and additional abuse has not been made certain in court.
After Whitis became unconscious, according to Gibson’s statements, he partially removed her clothing and touched her genitals.
Gibson told police he then dragged her into the home’s garage, and once there, he retrieved a knife from the kitchen and severed her right breast, which he then put in the minivan she had driven to his home. He then left the home in Whitis’ van and went to several bars before returning to the residence.
The following day, Gibson again left the home in the minivan. While he was away, his two sisters stopped by the home to get the mileage and vehicle information number, per an estate attorney’s request, from a vehicle parked in the garage of the home, which had belonged to their mother. During their testimony, both of the sisters explained they had come to the home about 3 p.m. and let themselves in with a key.
The women entered the home and were in disbelief when they discovered Whitis’ remains.
Brenda Rayl testified that she thought the body was “paper mache or a blow up doll,” and went on say she first thought the pool of blood under Whitis’ body was “antifreeze or oil.”
Moments later, she dialed 911 and told a dispatcher she didn’t know what she needed, but she had found a body in her mother’s garage.
Area law enforcement were then put on alert for Gibson.
Hours later, NAPD Officer Matthew Kidd spotted Whitis’ blue minivan along Grant Line Road. The officer was driving a patrol car at the time and testified Tuesday, “We locked eyes. I saw him and he saw me.”
Kidd later said he knew Gibson, as he had seen in him in New Albany drinking establishments.
Kidd tried to pull Gibson over but he didn’t stop, according to the officer, and drove into the parking lot of the nearby Walmart. Once on the Walmart property, Floyd County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Jeff Topping assisted in stopping Gibson. Kidd and Topping used their vehicles to block in the minivan in front of the retailer’s front doors.
Topping and Kidd each testified that Gibson refused to show his right hand after the vehicle had stopped and they attempted to remove him from the vehicle.
Kidd pulled Gibson from the vehicle after he failed to comply with directions.
During Topping’s testimony, he said that he believed Gibson did not show his right hand because he was attempting to hide Whitis’ severed breast in the console, where it was later found. Topping said the top of the console was also found to have a dried bloody residue.
Earlier in the day, in the video of Gibson’s interview with NAPD, he was asked why he removed the body part.
“I have no idea. I guess it is just some sort of sexual fantasy, I guess,” he told the investigator. “It must of been some sort of trophy thing like you were saying. I guess.”
Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steven Owen is serving as co-counsel for the state. Gibson is being represented by court-appointed attorney J. Patrick Biggs. Judge Susan Orth is presiding over the trial.
Gibson is also charged with the murder of Stephanie Kirk, 35, Charlestown, who was found buried in Gibson’s backyard April 27, 2012, and Karen Hodella, 45, whose body was found in the Ohio River in 2003.