Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Glen Rogers, the Cross-Country Killer

Gibtown

Map of Florida with Gibsonton locator
Map of Florida with Gibsonton locator

Having worked on the carnival circuit as a way to cross the country, Rogers certainly knew about Gibsonton, Florida, or Gibtown, as the residents called it.  He probably figured it would be easy to pick up a woman there, although she might be a little unusual.

Sign: Gibtown, Florida
Sign: Gibtown, Florida

Gibsonton is a unique town south of Tampa, the residence of numerous "carnies," such as the bearded lady, Rubberface, the human blockhead, midgets and giants.  Most of the buildings are one-story, run-down concrete eyesores, but it's interesting to enter a grocery store to see the mixed clientele.  Some residents kept elephants in their yards. They lived in this place because they were "different," and had a shared history of being outcasts and exhibits in traveling carnivals.  There was once even a sensational murder in Gibtown once, of a bully known as Lobster Boy.

Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr.
Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr.

Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr. was born with a deformity that made his hands look like lobster claws.  He was sixth in a line of men in his family with such a deformity, and two of his four his children had it as well.  He also could not walk, due to legs that had developed imperfectly.  He was known to be mean, even abusive, and he actually shot a young man who became interested in his daughter.  However, because no prison could deal with his deformity, he escaped serving time.  His second wife apparently decided that she'd been abused long enough and mentioned to a relative that something had to be done about him.  On November 29, 1992, only three years earlier, a neighbor hired by Grady's son-in-law shot and killed him as he watched television.  The crime drew media attention to the town of carnival "freaks." 

 

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