Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Roger Reece Kibbe: The I-5 Strangler

Drug Money

On September 6, southeast of Sacramento again off I-5, the badly decomposed remains of a white female were found not far from where Stephanie Brown's body had been dumped, although this newly discovered victim had clearly been in place a long time. Dental records helped to identify the remains as Lora Heedick, 21, and it quickly became clear that her tank top had not only been cut for use as a ligature, but also had been damaged with the odd nonfunctional cutting pattern. Her pantyhose had been used to bind her wrists.

Lora Heedick
Lora Heedick

Lora had last been seen in an area frequented by prostitutes and drug addicts. Apparently at the urging of her boyfriend, James Driggers, she had agreed to prostitute herself in exchange for drug money. Driggers told investigators that on April 20 she had gotten into a white two-door car with a fiftyish man, inviting Driggers to go with them. They then had dropped Driggers off outside a motel and taken off to get the drugs, but Lora never came back or called. Driggers told police he had last seen them heading toward Highway 99. But he then took a polygraph test, and failed, so police wondered if he had a connection to the other victims. Yet since he had no car and thus no apparent means of transporting victims, Driggers was ultimately dropped from the suspect list.

It was impossible to determine if the victim had been raped, but shafts of brown head hair and pubic hair were lifted off her. Lora was believed at this time to have been the killer's first victim.

Since he appeared to be trolling for easy prey, police decoys dressed as prostitutes or distressed motorists were situated about the area to try to lure him into a trap, but this tactic failed. Warnings were broadcast to female drivers to beware, especially near I-5. The killer, believed to be operating alone, was now dubbed the I-5 Strangler. Sacramento County Sheriff Glen Craig said to newspapers that the killer was likely familiar with the area, especially the back roads. "He has owned or had access to several different makes of vehicles during recent years," he said, "and he's probably familiar with or frequents prostitution strolls in the Central Valley cities."

Soon patrol officers pulled over a furniture salesman, Roger Kibbe, for a traffic violation and noticed that he resembled the composite drawing. It was not the first time that Kibbe, 47, had been questioning in association with a missing woman, so his wife Harriet was alarmed when detectives came looking for him. In fact, Kibbe's brother was a homicide detective and Kibbe had apparently asked him for advice on how to handle an investigation of this nature.

Under questioning, Kibbe admitted to soliciting prostitutes and mentioned being in several areas that could have put him in contact with the victims. He traveled I-5 whenever he visited his brother in Tahoe and was also familiar with the areas where the bodies had been dumped. The cars he had owned matched descriptions of cars associated with the young women. He was looking more and more like a prime suspect.

It was later learned that he had often asked his brother "innocent" questions about law enforcement, thereby gaining inside knowledge that had assisted him in preparing for murder and cleaning up evidence. In fact, the brothers often took long walks together to talk about crime solving, including the ongoing I-5 serial murder investigation. Since the brother was unpersuaded of Kibbe's involvement, the investigation became dicey for the cops: in his loyalty, the brother might hold back important details as well as spill crucial information to a possible killer. Without hard evidence, the investigation dragged on and the murders continued.


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