On Tuesday, The Indiana State Police said that they used crime scene evidence and genealogical data to link an Iowa man who died in 2013 to the killings of three female motel clerks and sexual assault of a fourth in Indiana and Kentucky from 1987 through 1990.
In January 2013, Harry Edward Greenwell, who was 68-year-old when he died in New Albin, Iowa, was the so-called “I-65 killer,” said Sgt. Glen Fifield of the Indiana State Police during a news conference in Indianapolis. The killings earned that moniker since they happened at motels near Interstate 65.
Greenwell was born in Kentucky and died in Iowa, and his obituary lists cancer as the cause of his death.
Fifield further added that Greenwell had an extensive criminal history and was in and out of jail several times, even escaping from jail twice. He was known to have traveled frequently throughout the Midwest.
Fifield stated that evidence linked Greenwell to February 21, 1987, murder of 41-year-old Vicki Heath, who was sexually assaulted and shot to death while working the night shift at the Super 8 Hotel in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Greenwell was also linked to March 3, 1989, murders of Jeanne Gilbert and Margaret “Peggy” Gill.
Gilbert, 34, was killed while working the night shift at the Days Inn in Remington, Indiana, and Gill, 24, was killed while working at the Days Inn in Merrillville, Indiana. Both women were sexually assaulted and shot to death. Fifield said Greenwell was also linked by investigators to January 2, 1990, sexual assault of a 21-year-old female clerk at the Days Inn in Columbus, Indiana.
He said that this victim was able to escape from her attacker and survive. Later, she gave an excellent description of the suspect’s appearance and the details of the crime. She is the only known victim to have survived the vicious and brutal attacks of this killer.
Fifield said the state police crime lab matched ballistic evidence in the Gill and Gilbert murders, and the crime lab later matched DNA evidence linking the Heath and Gilbert murders to the Columbus, Indiana case.
Fifield said investigative genealogy, the use of DNA analysis combined with traditional genealogy research and historical records, “provided an important and significant lead” in four cases.
He said investigators continue to contact other Midwestern police departments because there is a “clear possibility” that Greenwell committed other unsolved murders, rapes, robberies, or assaults.
Statement by Gilbert’s daughter
Gilbert’s daughter, Kimberly Gilbert Wright, said her family is very grateful to law enforcement for their efforts to identify her mother’s killer and for helping to close down her family and relatives of other victims.
“She is still in the hearts of my family,” she said of her mother. “We talk about her as if she never existed. My brother and I were lucky enough to spend the last seven months of her life living with her and experiencing the joy she could bring to every day of our lives.”