Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Roger Reece Kibbe: The I-5 Strangler

New Evidence

Springer noticed contaminants on the surface of the cord and identified a fungal spore. This same spore was picked up from the floor mat of Kibbe's car. This made the fibers more distinct, for the purposes of comparison. But there was more. In fact, once Springer got going, the trace evidence got better and better.

Hair from a victim's dress proved to be microscopically consistent with hair taken from Kibbe's inner thigh. Thus, he could not be eliminated. Also, Springer found cat hair from two different animals, consistent with the hair on the Kibbes' two cats. She also discovered that no one had noticed that the pantyhose removed from Darcie's mouth were inside out. Springer turned them right-side out and found fibers that no one had seen before. They proved to be microscopically similar to fibers from the seats of Kibbe's car.

In addition, Springer saw red paint on the parachute cord used on Darcie, along with some tiny black particles that had a rubber-like consistency. Cord from Kibbe's car bore the same red paint and black particles. This helped to associate Kibbe with Darcie's murder. Since the size of these traces was tiny, they used a highly precise scanning electron microscope, which provided the elemental composition. The two cords had ten elements in common, including two substances nonessential to paint, and both cords also showed the same contaminants from the air when paint was sprayed near them. In fact, under a high-powered microscope, they appeared to be the very same piece of cord. This evidence apparently convinced Kibbe's brother, who called and urged Kibbe to confess.

Kibbe persuaded his wife to get rid of evidence for him, promising detectives he would talk if they would allow him time alone with his wife. They did so, and then he reneged on his deal. Harriet followed the directions he gave during this interview, tossing away some shoes and a diamond ring belonging to one of the victims.

With all this evidence, Kibbe was charged with murder of Darcie Frackenpohl. He was suspected in the others—and he'd apparently revealed to his wife that there were more that the police did not even know about. The Assistant District Attorney for El Dorado County, Robert Drossel, believed their suspect was now boxed in, and he was ready to take the case to trial. It began on Valentine's Day in 1991.