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‘I-65 killer’ identified decades after hotel workers murdered along Midwest freeway

The identity of a man dubbed the ‘I-65 killer’ and the ‘Days Inn killer’ after he targeted women who worked at hotels along the Midwest freeway in the late 1980s was revealed on Tuesday.

Harry Edward Greenwell has been identified as the man suspected of raping and killing three women and attacking another who got away, Indiana State Police with the FBI and Elizabethtown, Kentucky , authorities said at a joint press conference. Officials believe he may have more casualties.

For more than three decades, the killer of Vicki Heath, Margaret “Peggy” Gill and Jeanne Gilbert remained a mystery.

However, it is too late for the families of the victim to see him prosecuted. Greenwell died in January 2013 at age 68, Indiana State Police Sgt. said Glen Fifield during the press conference.

The Greenwell murders took place in Indiana and Kentucky.

A sketch by Harry Edward Greenwell.via Indiana State Police

It all started on February 21, 1987, with the murder of Vicki Heath, who was working nights at the Super 8 hotel in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, when she was sexually assaulted and shot in the head. announced the police.

Two years later, on March 3, 1989, Indiana State Police investigated two homicides that occurred on the same day, authorities said at the news conference.

Margaret Gill was killed while working nights at a Days Inn in Merrillville, Indiana. Jeanne Gilbert was also working night shifts at a Days Inn in Remington, Indiana when she was killed, Fifield said.

Police retained DNA evidence and ballistics evidence from all three cases.

The suspect then struck again on January 2, 1990, attacking a clerk working at a Days Inn in Columbus, Indiana, in the same manner. However, this woman, who has not been identified, was able to escape, Fifield said.

She was the lead on the case for the police, providing a detailed description of the suspect and details of the crime.

“She is the only known victim to survive this killer’s vicious and brutal attacks,” Fifield said at the press conference.

She described him as a green-eyed man with a lazy right eye, Indianapolis-based NBC affiliate WTHR reported.

Patterns quickly emerged after the attacks – all of the victims worked in hotels, all were sexually assaulted and robbed, and all of the attacks took place along the I-65 corridor, which runs from Gary, Indiana, to Mobile, Alabama.

Then came the evidence.

Ballistic evidence from the scenes of the Gill and Gilbert murders matched, meaning they were likely killed by the same suspect, Fifield said. The Indiana State Police lab then compared DNA evidence linking the Heath and Gilbert murders to the case in Columbus, Indiana, Fifield said.

In 2019, the FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team was brought in to help, bringing a fresh look to the case. At the same time, technology had advanced, Fifield said, giving investigators new ways to approach murders.

‘I-65 killer’ identified decades after hotel workers murdered along Midwest freeway
Harry Edward Greenwell.via Indiana State Police

One of the methods officials used was investigative genealogy – the use of DNA analysis, genealogical research and historical records to search for leads.

Further investigation and laboratory testing of evidence of the attacks by the Indiana State Laboratory led to a positively identified suspect – Greenwell with a 99.9999% positive match.

“It was this scientific breakthrough that ultimately led to the identification of the I-65 killer, Harry Edward Greenwell,” Fifield said. “Greenwell had a long criminal history and had been in and out of prison.”

Fifield noted that Greenwell had twice escaped from prison and was known to travel the Midwest frequently.

Police said they do not know the official cause of his death, but noted an obituary stating he died of cancer.

The investigation into the Greenwell crimes is not over.

“Investigators have long believed there have been rapes, murders, robberies or assaults that have not yet been linked to this investigation,” Fifield said.

Jeanne Gilbert’s daughter, Kim Gilbert Wright, spoke at the press conference, calling it “crushing” the announcement that her family had longed to hear for three decades.

“In our case, we will never know what the killer was thinking. We will never know the ‘why’ of his actions,” she said.

She recounted her last memories of her mother.

“I told everyone I remembered his last words… ‘I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow.’ I haven’t seen her until tomorrow, but I see her every day. I see her in me. I see her in my brother. I see her in my family.”


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