Man charged with murder in New Albany and cold case in Clarksvil - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Man charged with murder in New Albany and cold case in Clarksville

William Gibson (source: Floyd County Jail) William Gibson (source: Floyd County Jail)
Christine Whitis and Karen Hodella Christine Whitis and Karen Hodella
This shirt was found on Karen Hodella's body. This shirt was found on Karen Hodella's body.
The scene near the house where Christine Whitis was found. The scene near the house where Christine Whitis was found.

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Police have charged a man with the murder of 75-year-old Christine Whitis and 45-year-old Karen Hodella.

"These are two separate victims, from two separate crimes, from two separate dates," said Keith Henderson, Floyd County Prosecutor. 

Both of the victims' families say these charges are one step closer to justice. For Whitis' family, William Gibson was a man they've known for years. Whitis and Gibson's mother were best friends for 57 years. For Hodella's relatives, this was someone they've never heard of before the charges were filed. 

Five days after Whitis was found dead in a New Albany home, Henderson filed the charges. 

"She was always there for anyone that needed her," said Mike Whitis, victim's son. 

Hodella was a mother of four and beautician, whose family says followed her boyfriend from Florida to southern Indiana back in 2002, weeks later she was gone. 

"She had the most beautiful smile in the world," said Patricia Hyatt, Hodella's sister.

Henderson says Gibson met Hodella through friends at a bar. When her family in Florida couldn't get a hold of her, they reported her missing. Several months later her decomposing body was found in Clark County near the Ohio River. 
     
Even though years have passed, her family says they always knew her death wasn't an accident. "It gives us peace of mind to finally know that what we knew all along that this had happened, that someone had murdered my sister," said Hyatt. 

Henderson believes Hodella was murdered in Floyd County, but her cause of death is still unknown. Clarksville Police say the case turned cold after leads stopped coming in, but Hodella's sister says she can't help but believe another death could have been stopped. 

"If they would have done the police work and started from start to finish, maybe it could have prevented another person from dying at his hands," said Hyatt. 

Ten years later, Whitis was discovered dead in Gibson's home on Woodbourne Drive.

"I have no idea what caused my mother to go over there that day," said Mike Whitis. "I would speculate in some way that she was going over there to help him."

Henderson says the 75-year-old was found strangled. Gibson was picked up by police later that day just down the road, driving Whitis' mini van. 

"I think my family will take some solace in knowing that somehow my mother's death may have put some closure to some other family grieving," said Whitis. 

Henderson says Gibson admitted his involvement in these crimes to police. Gibson is being held at the Floyd County Jail without bond.
 
Copyright 2012 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

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