INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — After more than 30 years, Indiana State Police have identified the so-called I-65 killer. ISP says investigative genealogy was used to name Harry Edward Greenwell as the man that killed at least three women along the I-65 corridor in the late 1980s.
According to ISP Sgt. Glen Fifield, crime scene samples were used in conjunction with investigative technology to match Greenwell. Fifield said the match was “99.9999% positive.”
Greenwell died in January 2013, officials confirmed. He had been in and out of prison several times, even escaping on two separate occasions.
ISP, the FBI, and the Elizabethtown, Kentucky and Columbus, Indiana police departments made the announcement in front of a room filled with loved ones of the victims including Kim Gilbert Wright, the daughter of Jeanne Gilbert.
“I celebrate her. I encourage everyone else to celebrate her,” said Gilbert Wright about her mother.
Officials stressed no matter how old an investigation is, police will continue to look for leads and evidence.
“The message is you might be able to hide for a while but we’re going to find you,” said ISP superintendent Douglas Carter.
“These cases illustrate the importance of seeing every investigation through to the very end. Law enforcement officers are taught to never give up and to follow to where the facts lead them, however an experienced officer will trust their instincts as well,” added Lt. Matt Harris of the Columbus, Indiana Police Department.
According to Herbert Stapleton, the FBI Special Agent in charge of Indianapolis office, the investigative genealogy process started in 2019.
I-65 killer timeline
February 1987: According to the Unresolved podcast, the I-65 killer first struck on February 21, 1987 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Vicki Heath was 41 years old and working the front desk at a Super 8 motel the night she was murdered. The podcast recounts guests found the lobby to be in disarray the following morning with no sign of Heath. When police were called to search the property, they found Heath’s body behind the Super 8’s dumpster. She had been shot and sexually assaulted.
March 1989: It wasn’t until two years later when the killer took the lives of two Indiana women: 24-year-old Mary “Peggy” Gill and 34-year-old Jeanne Gilbert.
On March 2, 1989, Peggy Gill was working as a night auditor at a Days Inn in Merrillville, Indiana. The American Crime Journal reports 70 rooms had been booked at the time of Gill’s 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. She checked in her last guest around 1:30 a.m. on March 3 when investigators say someone forced her from the desk.
The Days Inn manager reported Gill missing after she did not call in to check with her that morning. Police arrived at the motel and found the desk’s cash drawer had been pried open with $179 missing from the till.
Officers then searched the motel and found Gill’s body shortly after 6:30 a.m. at the end of a vacant hall, according to the American Crime Journal. She had also been raped and shot twice in the head.
Police say sometime after Gill was murdered, the killer drove 52 miles south on I-65 to the Remington Days Inn.
Jeanne Gilbert of Rensselaer was behind the front desk after she agreed to switch shifts with a coworker in order to see her daughter cheer in a high school sectional game, the American Crime Journal reports.
Her last known interaction was around 4:30 a.m. when she made a courtesy wake-up call to a guest.
Sometime after that, she was forced from the motel and into a car for the last ride of her life.
Gilbert’s body was found less than two hours later on County Road 150 West just northwest of Brookston in White County. That’s a little more than a one-hour drive from where Peggy Gill was killed in Merrillville if you take I-65.
Gilbert had been shot three times and was also sexually assaulted.
The American Crime Journal reports the same suspect sexually assaulted a female employee during an armed robbery at a Days Inn in Columbus, Indiana on January 2, 1990.
The woman survived and was also to give police a description which led to a composite sketch of the suspect. She said he was around 6 feet tall with a gray beard and green eyes.
According to a WLFI report, in 2010, DNA linked the I-65 killer to all four crimes. The same gun was also used in the murders of Peggy Gill and Jeanne Gilbert, according to ACJ.