Police investigate possible connection between Gibson, missing I - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Police investigate possible connection between Gibson, missing IU student

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Lauren Spierer Lauren Spierer
Stephanie Kirk Stephanie Kirk
Murder victims Christine Whitis and Karen Hodella Murder victims Christine Whitis and Karen Hodella
Tony Kirk, Stephanie Kirk's father Tony Kirk, Stephanie Kirk's father
Delana Dean, Stephanie Kirk's sister Delana Dean, Stephanie Kirk's sister

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Bloomington, IN police say a detective has been assigned to investigate a possible connection between murder suspect Clyde Gibson and missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer.

Spierer, 20, disappeared last June after a night of partying with friends in Bloomington.

Police said the Bloomington detective will touch base with investigators assigned to the Gibson case to determine whether Gibson should be considered a suspect in Spierer's disappearance.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to search both inside and outside Gibson's home. Over the last few days, police have removed bags and drawn lines in his backyard, which is the same place they discovered the remains of Stephanie Marie Kirk, 35, on April 27.

Kirk's father and sister spoke exclusively to WAVE 3 on Wednesday for the first time since Kirk's body was found.

"I've been looking for her," said Kirk's sister Delana Dean. "Before this all started, I was the one looking for her for two weeks. I was going to that bar looking and asking people."

Kirk had been missing for a month. She was supposedly headed to a bar to meet a man in his 50s named Jeff Gohen when she disappeared. Police haven't been able to find Gohen, and her father wonders if it was really Gibson, who is 54.

"I have no idea who he was," said her father Tony Kirk of Gibson. "She did not know him. She met him probably that weekend."

Tony has lost his wife, brother, and now daughter in the last year.

"I really feel bad for (Stephanie's) daughter because she has a long way to go without a mother now," said Dean. "I'm going to be there for her, and that's what Stephanie would want."

Tony Kirk said he hasn't been able to plan Stephanie's funeral because he's trying to win custody of his 13-year-old granddaughter, Sabrina, because her father is back in the picture. George Tuell admits he hasn't seen his daughter in nine years.

"I can't believe that somebody would do that," said Kirk. "(Stephanie's daughter has) been through so much with her mother's passing away, and now she's petrified that she's going to be yanked out of her own home and sent to somebody she doesn't know. She's scared. She's devastated."

Tuell said he has contacted Child Protective Services, but doesn't necessarily want his daughter back. He said that as the only living parent, he's looking out for her well-being and what she wants. 

According to the Petition for Emergency Custody, Tuell denied he was Sabrina's father until he was court-ordered to get a DNA test. The petition states that he did not want visitation rights and has failed to pay child support.

Kirk fears he wants custody to achieve financial gain. Tuell denies that.  

An emergency custody hearing is scheduled in Clark County for Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said investigators would continue searching at Gibson's house on Thursday. Henderson has not yet charged Gibson with Stephanie Kirk's murder because he's waiting for the official cause of death. The preliminary cause of death is strangulation.

WAVE 3 spoke with an Uptown bartender who said on the day Gibson was at the bar just hours before he was arrested. The bartender said he noticed Gibson had fresh dirt on his pants.
 
The bartender, who did not want to be identified, said that while Gibson was there, a Clarksville Police detective showed up asking about Stephanie Kirk. As this was going on, the bartender said Gibson quietly slipped out.
 
That afternoon, Christine Whitis, 75, a long-time friend of Gibson's mother, was found dead inside Gibson's home. Just a few days later, Gibson was charged in the death of Karen Hodella, 46, whose body was found ten years ago along the banks of the Ohio River. 

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