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Last updated on Thursday, May 24, 2012
(INDIANAPOLIS) - A southern Indiana man already charged with killing two women was charged Wednesday with murdering a third, whose body was found buried in his backyard a month after she went missing.
Rick Callahan of the Associated Press reports that William Clyde Gibson, a 54-year-old convicted sex offender, sat shackled and showed no emotion during a brief hearing in Floyd County Superior Court in which he was charged with murdering 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk, a Charlestown woman last seen March 25. He spoke only a few times, uttering a simple "yes" when Judge Susan Orth asked if he understood the charges.
Prosecutor Keith Henderson said he is seeking the death penalty for Gibson in the deaths of Kirk and 75-year-old Christine Whitis, a longtime friend of Gibson's family who was found strangled in his home hours before his April 19 arrest. He said he's not pursuing the death penalty in the 2002 slaying of Karen Hodella, a 44-year-old Florida woman who was visiting the area, citing the amount of time that has elapsed, among other reasons.
But he said there were aggravating circumstances that substantiated seeking capital punishment in the other two cases, saying Gibson sexually assaulted both women before killing them and cut off Whitis' breast after her death.
"If these two cases are not candidates for the death penalty, then I don't think any case would be," he said.
Gibson, who faces three counts of being a habitual offender in addition to the three murder counts, has been in jail without bond since his arrest. His attorney, J. Patrick Biggs, did not immediately respond to a phone message Wednesday seeking comment.
Henderson said investigators don't know of any other victims, and he declined to say whether Gibson had accompanied authorities in area searches along the Ohio River or in Bloomington, about 90 miles away.
"We would never rule out anything further, but at this point in time I have no information that there's anything else credible to date," the prosecutor said.
Orth set an Aug. 27 trial date for Gibson, and Henderson said he would prefer Gibson stand trial first for Whitis' killing.
Kirk's father, Tony Kirk, told reporters after the hearing that he thinks Gibson is "just a sick person, pure evil" and that he could barely stand being in the same courtroom with the man.
He said that he supports prosecutors' decision to seek the death penalty.
"It won't be closure even if he's executed because I still don't have my daughter back," Kirk said, adding, "He needs to be executed."
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