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Listing Of Unsolved Murders & Missing People In Canada => Ontario Unsolved Murders & Missing People => London => Topic started by: Angela Ellis on August 28, 2007, 09:23:44 AM

Title: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: Angela Ellis on August 28, 2007, 09:23:44 AM
1975 ? Irene Francis Gibbons, 66, of Strathroy, was found dead in the
bedroom of the bungalow where she lived alone. She was strangled but not
sexually assaulted and no valuables were stolen.
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: rkay on April 11, 2011, 08:33:19 PM
So little information on Irene or her murder seems available. This is all I've been able to find. Doesn't even seem to be a picture of her, so far. Perhaps I'll have to see if the Strathroy paper has any more information.

Here is the first article in the London Free Press, on Monday August 4th. Her body was discovered on Saturday Aug 2nd, and her murder likely occurred on Thursday July 31st afternoon. Her obituary came out that same Monday, as seen below:

Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: rkay on April 11, 2011, 08:34:34 PM
The following day, August 5th, discusses her autopsy results:

Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: rkay on April 11, 2011, 08:37:54 PM
This article was published on Wed. August 6, 1975. Two different editions (I'm not sure which is which-- I imagine one is the morning edition and the other the regional edition), the primary difference being the second includes her regular paper carrier's photo:



Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: rkay on April 11, 2011, 08:48:34 PM
And that's it so far. I didn't see anything else within the two weeks following that. I imagine that the police had very little to offer the media after this. Also sad that she had very little connection in her neighbourhood, or any family beyond her brother in Hamilton.

As far as a connection with Jacqueline Dunleavy and Frankie Jensen, there's no mention here of the tissue paper. Perhaps the investigators were holding onto that info. The only place I've seen that connection made is in the Toronto Star article reprinted in the Project Angel thread.

Except for that, unless the police have more that hasn't been shared publicly, Irene's murder doesn't seem to be related. She was not abducted, but instead found in her own home; she was a senior; and it's said in the article that she was not sexually assaulted. If she shares the same killer as Jacqueline, Frankie, and Donna Awcock, this seems to stand out as an anomaly in the killer's m.o. But again, perhaps the police have not shared all the facts.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: Have faith on April 12, 2011, 08:03:19 AM
Just off the top of my head, it is interesting that Irene was receiving "funny" phone calls from an unknown man before her murder.  Frankie Jensen's family received calls from an unknown man after he was abducted, and it was noted that Donna Awcock expressed  anxiety of impending harm to herself in the days leading up to her murder.

Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: rkay on January 31, 2012, 10:21:39 PM
Here's the only image I've found so far of Irene, from Feb 5th 1998 LFP Project Angel article. Not sure why it takes that long to get one-- there's nothing in the original 1975 reportage, nor the 1989 re-examination. But I'm grateful there is one (apologies for the poor quality).

(http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc220/rkay7/xtra/IreneGibbonscloseup.jpg)
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 09, 2018, 07:40:09 PM
I would like to light a fire under this case.  I'm familiar with Strathroy, and I've heard a lot about Christian Magee, but it seems that poor Irene has been forgotten.  Here are some salient details about this case.  I'm using Murder City as my main source.  Unfortunately, I can no longer seem to access the newspaper articles attached to the previous posts, so I'm sort of going by memory (feel free to correct me if I've gotten any of the details wrong):

Some observations and questions:

Finally, and quite importantly, this case has serial indicators.  Irene's murder has often been linked to the so-called "tissue slayings."  To be honest, I'm rather skeptical about that theory.  But I would like to know if there are similar crimes in and around Southwestern Ontario that share one or more of these characteristics: 


Help me, hive mind!
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: freeman on May 11, 2018, 06:57:03 AM

Christian Magee was active in Strathroy at the same time although his targets were teenage girls, and the MO was very different but in a small town like that he must have been looked at for this murder too.
http://murderpedia.org/male.M/m/magee-christian.htm

From the description in George Fayne's post it seems very likely that the murderer was in the in the house when the grocery boy knocked and that might have panicked the attacker and maybe why there was no sign of a sexual assault.
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 11, 2018, 01:15:28 PM
I agree- no doubt local police considered Magee.  One of his victims was attacked in her home, too.  I also bet that the local cops struggled with the possibility that Strathroy was home to not one, but maybe two, serial killers.

Ultimately, though the cops didn't link Gibbons with Magee.  The Magee cases and the Irene Gibbons case have some striking dissimilarities (aside from the obvious age differentiation between Gibbsons and Judith Barksey, Susan Scholes, and Louise Jenner).  The Magee murders seem very disorganized:  his attacks were sudden and frenzied.  The Gibbons case comes across as very organized.  Gibbons' killer clearly stalked her for weeks.  It seems remarkable to me that he was able to enter and leave her house without any notice.  It was summer, in the middle of the day.  There would have been children around.  I'm drawing from memory here, but I seem to recall that one of the LFP articles showed Gibbons's house-- what struck me was that her yard had very little landscaping, no towering trees or shrubs.  She was in clear sight, not only to the killer but to her immediate neighbours (so what did they see, if anything?).  To me, this suggests that the killer was familiar with that neighbourhood and the routines of its residents.  Maybe because he lived there, maybe because he watched (I'm reminded of the Golden State Killer, here.  Obviously, I don't think it's him, but I think there are similarities).  Also, the dog would have barked (unless, of course, the dog knew the assailant.  either because Irene knew him or, more chillingly, because the killer had broken into her house previously without her knowing).  To sum, this all strikes me as extremely methodical, whereas Magee seemed to react to an impulse.

(I think I might add some of these details to my previous post)
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 15, 2018, 05:07:00 PM
In my efforts to look into deaths involving:  older woman, strangulation, and home invasion, I've come across the Caroline Weldman case.  (Note, I'm not saying that Weldman's killers were responsible for Irene's death, I'm just information gathering):


Questions and comments (note, some of this is speculative):
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 21, 2018, 04:44:05 PM
Is this case related?

********

From the Zurich Citizen News (11 October 1973):  Links here (https://pubdocs.huroncounty.ca/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=596943&searchid=52273707-23f2-4cd9-b567-6c852b099d21&dbid=3) and here (https://pubdocs.huroncounty.ca/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=596944&searchid=2bcfaa6f-e6c4-4f80-8689-8a22985f960e&dbid=3).

Police Continue Hunt for Possible Clues

Police are still looking for some type of evidence which might give them a lead in the strangling death of a 93 year-old Hensall widow, found in her home last Friday afternoon.

Mrs. Jane McMurtrie was found naked in her upstairs bedroom by neighbours.  She had been last seen by neighbours raking leaves on her front lawn Thursday afternoon.  Her home is on the main street of Hensall near the westerly limits of the village.

Mrs. Fred Vivian who made Mrs. McMurtrie one main meal a day, brought her groceries and helped with some housework, said he [sic] went to the house at 1:20 pm Friday and found the rear door unlocked.

She said she was suspicious, went next door and attempted to telephone Mrs. McMurtrie but found the telephone was no working. 

Police said the telephone line at the victim's house had been cut, but added that workmen had been repairing the line earlier in the week.

Insp. Tom Lennon of the OPP criminal investigation branch in Toronto said the cause of Mrs. McMurtrie's death was not immediately apparent.  There were no external signs of violence.  An autopsy Saturday at Stratford General Hospital revealed the strangulation. 

Police said forensic laboratory experts are trying to determine if she was sexually assaulted. 

Insp. Lennon said there were signs of attempted entry in two locations at the large tree-shaded frame house where Mrs. McMurtrie had lived for 35 years. 

Police called in from Sebringville and Goderich to assist the Exeter OPP detachment made [sic] a house-to-house canvass Sunday and Monday to determine if anyone had seen anything that could be of assistance.

Police and the victim's niece, Mrs. Stewart Bell of Zurich Road, described Mrs. McMurtrie as "in good health for her age."

Mrs. Bell said her aunt was able to do many chores in the house and around the yard although she couldn't walk well.  She was "a good church goer and a good giver," Mrs. Bell said.

Mrs. McMurtrie had lived along [sic] for 11 years since the death of her second husband.  She had moved to the King Street house after the death of her first husband, a farmer. 

"She had no family, no children," Mrs. Bell said.  "She had those two cats--they were barn cats--and they were her children.  She called them her children."  Mrs. Bell took the cats home. 

Police said the house was not ransacked, nothing was taken, and there was no apparent motive for the killing.

It was the third slaying involving elderly women who lived alone in this area in the past three years.

A 70 year-old Clinton woman was stabbed to death in January 1970, and a 76 year-old Crediton woman was beaten to death in November of the same year. 

Funeral service for the late Mrs. McMurtrie was held Monday at Bonthron Funeral Chapel, Hensall, with internment in Baird's Cemetery.  Rev. Donald Beck officiated.

*******

Some notes:

Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: Have faith on May 22, 2018, 10:59:23 AM
Hi George Fayne, welcome to Unsolved Canada, and thank you for your input.

Ignoring Irene for a moment, if we look at your research, whereby three older women were murdered in their homes, all within three years, and all located minutes from Hwy. 4, and  within a half an hour of each other--how fast can one say "serial killer". This is unbelievable. I have never heard of these cases.

Now add Irene, and we have four older women murdered in their homes, within five years, and all located within sixty-nine minutes of each other. (Strathroy is about 15 minutes off hwy. 4).

The distance from London to the farthest town is only 85 km. It should be noted that the time period of these older womens' murders (1970-1975) was during the heyday of London serial killers, and which has been described as the serial capital of the world by M. Arntfield, in his book about London, "Murder City".

The record of OPP historical, unsolved murder cases is worse than I thought.
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 24, 2018, 09:38:10 PM
The "Highway Four" connection is something, eh?

I've read that organized killers often have access to a vehicle and usually have stable jobs.  I've wondered if Irene (and maybe Jane's?) killers were brought to Strathroy (and Hensall) because of their work. 

Anyways, I really can't say whether or not these cases are related-- I feel like more information is needed.  Whether or not these cases are linked, it seems like Irene, Jane, Katharine, and this other victim who I haven't been able to identify, were not given the same attention as other victims from that era.  Perhaps because people feel a stronger sense of protectiveness towards younger victims?  Maybe, because people had (have) a hard time dealing with the fact that these murders (Jane's and Irene's at least) were sexually motivated?  At any rate, I have a feeling if we look closer there's a good chance we can uncover similar crimes throughout rural Southern Ontario--crimes that have been swept under the rug.

I'm going to start a thread about Jane McMurtrie in the hopes that someone from the Exeter area remembers something...
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: freeman on May 25, 2018, 01:30:05 PM
The article says it was third slaying of an elderly woman but does not say they were all unsolved.

There was an arrest for the Crediton murder, I have not been able find any follow up as to whether there was a conviction .  I have attached clipping from the Ottawa Journal from Dec 1 1970

Also there apparently was a tv show documentary produced about Irene Gibbons, the clipping is from the ottawa tv guide in Dec 1978
(Code 10-78
Network:
Global Television Network
Broadcast Run:
1976 to 1978
Broadcast Medium:
Television
Code 10-78 was a half-hour Global crime series that ran from 1976 to 1978, and dealt with unsolved OPP cases.  The series was hosted and written by Peter Guy Silverman, and directed by Milad Bessada, with cameraman Don McMillan. The OPP liaison was Const. Rick Morrison.)
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 25, 2018, 02:47:44 PM
Thank you, freeman!

I will update this other thread that I started about those three crimes.

Even if these murders aren't related, I wonder if, on a statistical level, this sort of crime (home invasion, elderly woman) was common in the 70s.  (though it seems like murder rates were, just generally, pretty high in that decade)

Hmm, I'd be interested to see that documentary about Irene.  Perhaps her death received more media coverage than I thought.
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: freeman on May 25, 2018, 04:10:06 PM
It may be difficult to get copies of the show this is a link from a few years ago about a different episode of the series and Peter Silverman who was a part of the show adds in the comment section that even he can’t find a copy of the shows
https://blogtoonnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/1975-markdale-crime-subject-of-global-tv-show/
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on May 30, 2018, 05:23:25 PM
Thank you for looking into this, freeman.

That's too bad!  I was also hoping that someone had uploaded it to Youtube, but no dice!

I did find this interesting article in the Globe and Mail.  It's a really long feature article about Strathroy's climate in the wake of Judith Barksey, Louise Jenner, and Irene Gibbons's murders.  The writer takes some, um, creative liberties--like she tends to lean heavily on the whole "big city reporter in a small country town" trope-- but it does paint a compelling picture of the community in this time.  Apparently, there were some violent sexual assaults around this time.

I've attached a PDF copy.

I should also add that this article appears to have an image taken from one of the crime scenes (I think?!?!?)... thankfully you can't really make out the victim's body.
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on July 15, 2018, 01:38:01 PM
If you go a "Google Maps" search of the address listed in the article that I had posted in my previous entry, you might notice a couple of things (I'm not directly posting the address out of respect for the current home owner's privacy).  Firstly, that Irene's house is right in the centre of a "T" intersection and is extremely visible.  Secondly, the houses in this neighbourhood are very close together.  The yards are tiny.

The intersection detail is very striking to me.  Irene's house would have been fairly visible to a passer-by.  I read somewhere that houses situated at intersections are often targeted by intruders because of their visibility, and because it's easier for a passing car or bicyclist to linger at an intersection without notice.  The openness of this area suggests to me that the location is a prime factor in this case.  In other words, my gut is telling me that Irene was not murdered by someone that she knew through previous encounters, rather she was targeted by someone who was creeping the neighbourhood. 

I'm not certain what to say about the close proximity of the houses.  Perhaps the killer knew of some pathway that would enable an easy escape?
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on August 28, 2018, 07:17:18 AM
Thera Dieleman of Innerkip (1988)

******
OPP to reveal new details about 1988 homicide
BY DALE CARRUTHERS
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: AUG 27, 2018

Thera Dieleman of Innerkip, was a murder victim who died in her home at the age of 80
A 30-year-old Southwestern Ontario murder is expected to take a new twist Tuesday, with investigators of an 80-year-old widow’s slaying saying they’ll reveal new suspect information.

Ontario Provincial Police have called a news conference to discuss the unsolved homicide of Thera Dieleman, whose strangled and beaten body was found near the front door of her Innerkip home, north of Woodstock in Oxford County, on Sept. 16, 1988.

Dieleman had lived in Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, and survived three years in an internment camp after the Japanese invaded the country during the Second World War.

The elderly woman likely resisted and injured her attacker before dying, police have said.

It’s the second time this summer police in the London region have gone public in a bid for help solving decades-old unsolved cases, a tactic one expert says can pay off, in part because so many years have gone by.

“Often, the passage of time allows people to become less reluctant to speak and all they need is a bit of a prompt or a nudge to come forward with what they know,” said Mike Arntfield, a former London police detective who’s now a Western University sociology professor and author of a best-selling book on cold-case killings.

The OPP held a news conference 10 years ago about the Dieleman case and said they’d recovered a man’s DNA from her body but needed someone to name the person responsible for her slaying.

The DNA didn’t match any of the persons of interest in the case, nor did police find the suspect among those in the national DNA databank, they said at the time.

No arrests were made, despite a $50,000 reward.

Last seen alive on Sept. 15, 1988, after being dropped off at her home following a day in Goderich, Dieleman didn’t answer the phone when friends tried calling her the next day. Witnesses reported seeing a red, flatbed truck in Dieleman’s driveway on the day her body was found.

Tuesday’s news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the OPP’s regional headquarters in London.

The OPP also went public last month,  to try to solve another old case, the death of Suzanne Deborah Miller, 25, whose body was found in a wooded area near Thorndale, on Oct. 12, 1974.

Police posted a video describing Miller’s killing to the OPP’s YouTube channel and shared it across social media. Bus ads and a minivan outfitted with information about the case were used to prompt people with information to call police. A reward for information about the Miller case was increased to $50,000.

But Arntfield criticized the OPP for their track record of not releasing enough information to the public in the early stages of death investigations.

“Unfortunately, with this agency, the public is never kept in the loop during the initial, critical, first phase of the investigation. These pressers, 10, 20, 30 years later, are often the first piece of information that they’ve ever publicly confirmed,” he said.

“I guess we’ll wait and see what they have to say.”

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

twitter.com/DaleatLFPress

Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: elsie on December 03, 2018, 08:57:10 PM
"A Viable Suspect: The Story of Multiple Murders and How a Police Force's Reach Proved Too Short for Canada's Most Notorious Cold Case"  by Barry Ruhl refers to the case of Irene Gibbons and to others though out Ontario.    I attended one of the author's presentations and certainly many facts support his theory.  But since the suspect is now deceased, it is unlikely to be proven - unless there is DNA that could be used like in the case of the Golden State Killer.
Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: George Fayne on December 21, 2018, 02:03:11 PM
He doesn't mention Irene in this particular presentation, but here's a video of Ruhl delivering a talk about Harper:  https://youtu.be/exXwg78_W2c (https://youtu.be/exXwg78_W2c)

Until this point, I've assumed that whoever targeted Irene had a paraphiliac interest in older women, so I've tried to link her case with other women around or above her age.  I'm not sure if "Larry Talbot" is responsible or not, but I will say that after gaining a stronger insight into the location of Irene's home (at the head of a T intersection, across from a schoolyard in summer, little landscaping), my gut is telling me that Irene's killer must have been a prowler of some sort.  Someone who either worked or lived in the area.  He may have had a paraphiliac interest in older women, yes, however, it's also possible that the killer was simply attracted to the visibility of her house and her vulnerability, as a woman on her own.  Her age in itself may not be a principle factor.

Title: Re: Irene Francis Gibbons - Strathroy, ON - Murdered - 1975
Post by: jellybean on December 26, 2018, 02:38:32 PM
Quote
But Arntfield criticized the OPP for their track record of not releasing enough information to the public in the early stages of death investigations.

“Unfortunately, with this agency, the public is never kept in the loop during the initial, critical, first phase of the investigation. These pressers, 10, 20, 30 years later, are often the first piece of information that they’ve ever publicly confirmed,” he said.


So very true.  Even today, with new crimes./jb