Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Roger Reece Kibbe: The I-5 Strangler

The Strangler and the Court

Drossel was allowed to present the circumstances of four murders and the assault, thanks to behavioral similarities. However, the jury could consider a conviction in only the case of Darcie Frackenpohl. Karen Finch's case was left out, because she had been stabbed. But she was not forgotten. All this effort was for her as well. Unfortunately, Drossel was not allowed to tell the jury about Kibbe's juvenile incidents. That would have been a strong tie-in to what he'd done as an adult, but the case had to be made without it.

Phil Kohn defended Kibbe and offered no opening statement. That was his prerogative. He kept his strategy to himself as he listened to Drossel's line-up of witnesses.

Drossel took each of the key investigators through the cases and then showed the jury how Kibbe had assembled his murder kit with scissors, rope, handcuffs, a vibrator, duct tape, and other items. He operated "like a mechanic, getting ready to go to work." Kibbe's approached was cold, calculated, and predatory, affirming that he had planned it all beforehand and had felt nothing for his victims.

Friends of Darcie's described Kibbe and his car on the night Darcie had disappeared; Kohn tried to destroy their credibility by raising their personal issues. He did the same to Debra Guffie, who had identified Kibbe as the man who'd assaulted her and tried to handcuff her. She was a prostitute and drug addict, and had taken heroin that night. But the defense team was poorly prepared to take on the criminalists.

Faye Springer ably explained the nature of fiber analysis and the importance of her findings in the case. A microscopist with a solid scientific reputation backed her up. This was followed by a signature analysis of the nonfunctional cutting of the clothing. Then Ray Biondi provided his analysis of how all the cases seemed linked.

Kibbe's defense, which was brief, consisted of an expert on eyewitness testimony describing the problems with such evidence and a criminalist who questioned some of the technical testimony, albeit ineffectively. In addition, an expert on parachute cords described how red paint could have gotten onto the cords in question at the factory, although he admitted the procedure he described was usually done with felt pen rather than paint. Drossel managed to turn some of these witnesses into effective witnesses for his own points. Most trial watchers believed he had the upper hand as the case came to a close.

On the same day the jury went to deliberate, March 18, they found Kibbe guilty of first-degree murder in the case of Darcie Frackenpohl. On May 10, 1991, Kibbe was sentenced to 25 years to life. He had to serve a minimum of sixteen years and eight months before being eligible for parole, and was taken temporarily to Pleasant Valley State Prison. On his way to his cell, he admitted to an officer that he had killed a few women, adding, "What's the big deal?"

Roger Reece Kibbe
Roger Reece Kibbe

Kibbe had also confessed this to his wife shortly after his arrest. She admitted he had told her he had killed four women. They had cried together, and she asked him why. He said he did not know. She claimed she had known nothing about it while she was married to him; his confession stunned her. And yet she did get rid of the incriminating evidence.

Kibbe revealed how he had managed to acquire his victims. He drove up and down the remote interstate until he saw something he liked, he said, then he drove ahead of the woman's car and parked his own on the side of the road. Pretending to be disabled, he attempted to lure his victim to stop and help. Those who did ended up dead. Sometimes he also picked up a prostitute.

 

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