Cold Case Project: slayings of West Chester man and his dogs remain unsolved

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 @ 4:05 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 @ 4:05 PM

Former Proctor & Gamble employee George Gibson was killed in 2000. Watch this video for details about his case.

On his final afternoon, George Gibson left work early, without explanation.

Within a few hours, someone shot the Procter & Gamble researcher nine times in his West Chester home. The killer, who apparently broke in through a rear basement window, also killed Gibson’s two pet Bernese Mountain dogs, Hugo and Capella.

“We believe he received a phone call at his work that made him leave early,” said Det. Doug Farris, the latest to investigate the nearly 13-year-old cold case.

Gibson, 47, was shot to death June 22, 2000. His wife Paige Smith, also a Procter & Gamble researcher at the time, was in upstate New York on a business trip that day.

“It’s one of those things where nothing makes sense,” Smith said last week from Oxford, NY, where she now lives. “It’s so foreign to me. So unlikely that George would have a passionate enemy.”

Gibson is hardly the typical murder victim, Farris said, noting that “he did not have a high-risk lifestyle.”

Gibson graduated from Brown University, then received his degree in veterinary medicine from Michigan State University. After practicing in Vermont, he went to Cornell University, where he received a doctorate in pathology. While at Cornell, he met Smith, who was pursuing her doctorate in veterinary clinical nutrition there.

The couple moved from New York to the Cincinnati area about two years before the murder. Gibson worked at P&G’s Ross facility and Smith at the Mason branch.

Smith and Gibson’s sister, Judy, who lives in New York and did not want her last name used, both said that Gibson was a generous man, an animal lover and a pillar of the family. He helped people, was involved with his church and the Boy Scouts, even though he and Smith did not have children.

Gibson’s last day was a Thursday. Smith saw him before going to work. After work, she flew to Norwich, NY. Gibson was seen leaving work about 3:40 p.m., then seen arriving home around 5:20 p.m.

Smith became concerned after she could not reach Gibson by phone and, the next day, asked a neighbor to check on him. P&G employees had called police after Gibson did not arrive at work, and officers arrived just as the neighbors were about to enter the home. About 12:30, police found his body on the first floor of the home at 7165 Tylersville Road.

Gibson was shot seven times in the head, once in the neck and once in the chest. The killer fired at least five more shots at the dogs. One was found in the basement near the broken window. The other was found on the main floor.

Farris said that it appeared that someone sat Gibson down, had a talk with him, then executed him. He described the crime as “very personal.”

Nothing was missing from the home, though some things had been moved around, Farris said.

There were no suspects, and no known reason for Gibson’s slaying. But police found that Gibson had a secret life after a woman came forward and told them that she had met Gibson through a dating phone service. Police now believe Gibson had contact with several people through the service, Farris said.

Asked about the phone service, Smith said “I guess it’s possible,” but added that it didn’t sound like him. His sister said she found it nearly impossible and described Gibson as “very straight laced” and the couple as extremely close.

“We always said George and Paige together, like it was one word,” she said. “He and Paige had a very tight marriage. It seems unlikely to me.”

The two speculated that Gibson could have been the victim of a botched hit, in which a killer went to the wrong house, or that his generosity could have gotten him in trouble. On at least one occasion, Gibson helped a female acquaintance leave an abusive partner, they said.

“I could see him trying to help someone who was in trouble,” the sister said.

But Farris said that evidence found at the scene points more closely to the dating service, though he declined to say what that evidence was.

His family members said that they just want to know what happened to Gibson, and why.

“It would be wonderful to have some sort of explanation,” his sister Judy said. “We’ll grieve him all our lives, but at least we’d know what happened.”

Anyone with information about the slaying of George Gibson is asked to call West Chester 513-759-7272 or Miami Valley Crime Stoppers at 937-222-STOP.

Body of missing 6-year-old boy found in dumpster

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 9:33 AM

VIDEO: Body of Missing 6-Year-Old Found In Dumpster

The body of a 6-year-old boy with autism, who was reported missing near Lynnwood, Washington, was found in a dumpster early Tuesday.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said Dayvid Pakko was a victim of a homicide. A 19-year-old man, who is a relative of the boy, has been taken into custody.

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Detectives were processing the crime scene Tuesday morning and are expected to be working for several hours

Dayvid was reported missing at about 5 p.m. Monday.

Crews searched for the boy in the area of 44th Avenue West between 156th Street and State Route 99, just outside Lynnwood city limits.

According to the sheriff’s office and relatives, Dayvid stayed home sick from school Monday. He was last seen at about 2:30 p.m.

The sheriff's office said Dayvid was under adult supervision while he was at home, but did not say who he was with.

Dozens of search and rescue personnel, along with civilian volunteers combed the area.

Reward offered in search for man suspected of raping, killing baby

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 2:20 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 10:06 AM

Police Looking For Man Who Killed, Sexually Assaulted Baby

Police in eastern Ohio are looking for a man suspected of raping and killing a baby girl.

According to WFMJ, the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Joshua Gurto.

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Gurto is accused of raping and killing a 13-month-old girl in Ohio’s Ashtabula County. He is wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Conneaut Police Department on aggravated murder and rape charges, WFMJ reported.

The child, identified by authorities as Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley, died Oct. 7, according to WJW. Citing the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office, the news station reported that she suffered blunt force trauma to her head and trunk.

Investigators told WJW that Gurto is the boyfriend of the baby’s mother. He has not been seen since shortly after Gurto’s death, when police in Conneaut released him from custody, WKYC reported.

“He was very cooperative through the whole initial process,” Conneaut police Det. Mike Sullivan told the news station. “We opted to release him. There were no charges to keep him at the time.”

Charges were filed against Gurto last week.

“She was a precious girl,” Sereniti’s mother, Kelsie Blankenship, told WKYC. “She brought me a reason to live.”

In an obituary, family members remembered Sereniti as a “loveable little girl who brought a smile to your face.”

“Her personality was bright and her smile was contagious,” the obituary said. “Although her time here was short, the lasting memories she brought to her family will forever be treasured.”

Police said Gurto has ties to western Pennsylvania.

He is described as:

  • 37 years old
  • 5 feet, 10 inches tall
  • 145 pounds
  • Deformed right ear
  • Misaligned jaw
  • Tattoos on right forearm

Anyone with information on Gurto’s whereabouts is asked to call the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 866-4WANTED or text keyword WANTED and the information to 84711.

Tipsters can remain anonymous.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Warrant alleges mother put 2 toddlers in oven, turned it on

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 6:52 PM

Georgia Mother Kills Two Youngest Sons By Placing Them In The Oven

A 24-year-old mother of four is accused of killing her two youngest sons “by placing them in an oven and turning it on,” according to an arrest warrant obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An official autopsy is pending.

Fulton County jail officials said Lamora Williams waived her first appearance in court Monday on felony murder charges.

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The arrest warrant alleges Williams put her sons in the oven sometime between midnight Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday.

Williams called her sons’ father, Jameel Penn, on Friday night and showed him by video chat that something was wrong in her Atlanta apartment home.

Penn said he immediately called the police.

2 Children Found Dead in Apartment; Mother Charged

When officials arrived at the Oakland City West End Apartment complex, the boys, 2-year-old Ke’Younte Penn and 1-year-old Ja’Karter Williams, were dead.

Related: 2 children found dead in Atlanta apartment; mother charged

Friends and family members of Williams told the AJC she suffered from undiagnosed mental health problems that were exacerbated by her father’s death when she was 19 and by having four children younger than 7. They said she was also a single mother who had some help from Penn, but not enough considering her mental health.

Williams’ longtime friend Neesa Smith said Williams quit a job about a month ago because she couldn’t find a babysitter for the kids. 

“Nobody could tell what she was going through,” Smith said.

Williams’ sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth, said Williams is at risk and should be put on suicide watch in the Fulton County Jail, where she remains without bond.

Montgomery County settling jail lawsuit brought by 60-year-old woman

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 6:38 AM


            Marsha Pate-Strickland
Marsha Pate-Strickland

Montgomery County officials have reached terms for a settlement with a 60-year-old woman who was taken down to the floor in the county jail after asking a corrections officer for milk instead of juice while eating breakfast in the women’s waiting area.

Marsha Pate-Strickland reached a financial settlement with the county, her attorney and county officials confirmed. County officials haven’t revealed the amount agreed to be paid.

RELATED: Video shows incident involving woman who is suing jail staff

Pate-Strickland’s attorney, Douglas Brannon, said he’s bound by a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the exact terms reached with Montgomery County Commissioners and Sheriff Phil Plummer.

“The case has been settled. There’s a signed agreement,” Brannon said. “The matter was settled amicably and Ms. Pate-Strickland is going to be moving forward with her life and is glad to have this matter resolved.”

RELATED: County to pay $375,000 to settle jail pepper-spray lawsuit

A Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman confirmed that terms have been reached and eventually will be filed in federal court.

“A settlement, approved by Sheriff Plummer, between him, Montgomery County, and the plaintiffs has been reached,” said Greg Flannagan. “However, the necessary documents have not been signed by the Sheriff or the plaintiff or filed with the court.”

SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse

This news organization has requested the document signed during mediation that includes the monetary agreement.

Surveillance video showed the altercation Sept. 8, 2015 between Pate-Strickland and corrections officer David Stemp after the inmate asked for milk instead of juice.

The suit claimed Stemp ordered Pate-Strickland to stand up, then was forcefully grabbed and “violently swung” around before her right shoulder and arm were slammed to the floor.

RELATED: 9 lawsuits against Montgomery County Jail personnel

Pate-Strickland was booked in on a misdemeanor assault accusation brought by another woman in her building that was dropped, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

The lawsuit claimed that the actions by Stemp were “brutal and excessive force” and “cruel and unusual.”

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Brannon said Pate-Strickland was “doing fine” and made a “good recovery from her non-displaced fracture. It healed.”

Personnel records obtained by this news organization show Stemp was given a letter of caution for failing to notify supervisors of an escalating situation.

Stemp resigned May 31, 2016, to take a full-time job with the village of Camden. Village Chief Matt Spurlock said in September that Stemp has been promoted to the department’s senior patrol officer and is in charge of the property room.

Spurlock said Stemp, who started as part-time in late 2014, always has showed professionalism.

RELATED: Jail officer disciplined for actions that spurred federal lawsuit

Brannon also represented Amber Swink, who was paid $375,000 after being strapped in a seven-point harness and pepper-sprayed by then-Sgt. Judith Sealey, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck.

Montgomery County Jail lawsuit settlements

Two lawsuits of at least 10 pending cases against Montgomery County Jail staff have been settled out of court. Several more are pending, according to attorneys who have brought other suits.

Amber Swink: $375,000

Marsha Pate-Strickland: Undisclosed