Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Roger Reece Kibbe: The I-5 Strangler


Four more detectives were placed on the case, and by now it had been a year since they had found Stephanie Brown in the ditch. Biondi and his crew were no closer to solving it, nor to definitely connecting the others to her. The investigators were instructed not to worry over jurisdiction, as the killer apparently respected no boundaries. He might, in fact, be deliberately making things difficult for any single investigative team by operating in different counties.

Debra Guffie, 29, was soliciting for drug money when a man asked if she was "working" and invited her into his car — a white compact. She got in. He declined her offer of a room and drove for a while without talking. When he finally parked he became violent, slamming her head hard against his lap. She heard the click of handcuffs, which made her struggle wildly against his effort to bind her, and she was able to get out of the car. She screamed with everything she had. Fortunately for her, Sergeant Charles Coffelt was nearby on patrol, and he gave chase to the driver, who sped away. Back-up arrived and they arrested the man, already known to law enforcement in that area: Roger Kibbe. He was charged with assault.

As the assault case against Kibbe was being processed, the body of a fifth victim was discovered. A jogger had come across the nude body of a young female in the woods in El Dorado County. A ligature was still around her neck, and her body had been in the woods for several weeks. Typical of the Strangler, her clothing had been tossed around the general area.

Darcie Frackenpohl
Darcie Frackenpohl

It took a while to identify her, but this victim would turn out to be seventeen-year-old Darcie Frackenpohl, a runaway from Seattle last seen at a Sacramento prostitute stroll. She had been choked to death with a garrote fashioned of cord with dowels at both ends — a new device for the Strangler, if she was his victim. Her panty hose were stuffed into her mouth, and the same unusual cuts were made to her clothing. Several fibers were lifted from her body, and there was evidence of a blow to her head. Since the ligature had been left behind, investigators were able to examine the rope used, which was made of white nylon.

Back in Sacramento, detectives examined items removed from the car of Roger Kibbe: handcuffs, a battery-operated vibrator, a 6-inch pair of scissors that had cut something adhesive, rubber hair bands, and two 6-inch pieces of wood dowel, one of which had a white nylon cord looped around the end of it. Detective Kay Maulsby realized the items were the same type of cord and dowel as used in the device found with the recent victim. Since Kibbe was one of their primary suspects, they went to work on these items, and also learned more about Kibbe. He was a skydiver, and the cord was like that used on parachutes. He had owned two different cars, and this cord was found in both, as well as in his home. It was hollow white nylon cord with six fibers running through it, and while all the pieces were the same, no one could say they were all from the same source. Fibers stuck on the scissor blades proved to be too generic to match to victim clothing. Thus, investigators had only a circumstantial case, and not one likely to interest the district attorney.

Kibbe made bail and was therefore free to go, so they kept surveillance on him and continued to do research. Eventually he would go to trial on the assault charge. It turned out, he had a peculiar criminal record.