Man being questioned about one murder makes statements in separate murder

Christine Whitis and Karen Hodella
Christine Whitis and Karen Hodella
William "Clyde" Gibson III (source: Floyd County Jail)
William "Clyde" Gibson III (source: Floyd County Jail)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - While police were questioning a southern Indiana man about one murder, they say he made statements about his involvement in another. 54-year-old William "Clyde" Gibson III is charged with killing his mother's long-time, 75-year-old friend, Christine Whitis. He's also charged with murdering a woman a decade ago.

46-year-old Karen Hodella, a beautician, and mother of four, moved from Florida to southern Indiana for a better life, but in October 2002 she vanished.  Three months later, police responded to a dreary scene along the Ohio River where they found her body badly decomposed.

It wasn't until April 24, 2012 that the prosecutor charged Gibson with her murder.

"Through a social scene at the bars they became acquainted with each other we believe a short term relationship," said Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson.

Police are now linking other evidence to this case, like bloody clothes found in Corydon around the same time.

"Clothes discovered in Harrison County, body discovered in Clark County, and we believe the murder occurred in Floyd county near University Woods," said Henderson.

Henderson says the defendant made a statement that implicated him in the murder, but proving a case that old is rarely easy.

"When you've got a case ten years old and you've got to go back and try to recreate witnesses who may or may not be around, may or may not have good memories, may or may not have good physical evidence, it would be much much more difficult for a prosecutor," said Henderson.

Patrick Renn, an attorney not associated with the case, says It's less likely to find hair, DNA, or fiber evidence on a body that's badly decomposed.

"If you can't establish how the person was in fact murdered, then it can be very difficult to establish if it was an intentional murder compared to a reckless murder," said Renn.

There is no cause of death in the murder of Hodella. Clear is the cause of death for a more recent murder, that of Gibson's long-time family friend, 75-year-old Christine Whitis.  Henderson says it was due to strangulation.

Gibson is being held without bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 29th.

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