I-65 serial killer revealed decades after murder and rape spree using DNA technology

The I-65, or Days Inn Killer, is believed to have raped and murdered at least three women in the 1980s

Freckle-faced killer Eric Smith freed on parole

The serial killer who allegedly murdered and raped women along the I-65 corridor in the 1980s has been named as Harry Edward Greenwell, authorities said Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials from several agencies, including the FBI and Indiana State Police, said they used “investigative genealogy” to identify the man.

The “I-65 Killer”, also known as the “Days Inn Killer,” is believed to have raped and murdered three female motel clerks along Interstate 65 between Indiana and Kentucky in the late 1980s.

The case had been unsolved for decades. Authorities had already drawn up a composite sketch of the suspect after another potential victim escaped and gave them a description of a tall man with greasy grey hair and a lazy green eye.

Mr Greenwell, whose DNA came back as more than a 99% match to crime scene evidence, died in Iowa in 2013. On Tuesday, authorities said they wished they’d been able to solve the case and bring closure to families while he was still alive and could face justice.

Harry Edward Greenwell, the man police believe to be the I-65 Killer, in a police booking photo from an unrelated crime.

“The animal that did this is no longer on this Earth. I’m not going to say his name. I think we need to focus on the victims today,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said at the multi-agency press conference.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent on Wednesday, Greenwell’s widow said even she was unaware of his horrific crimes.

The first woman known victim of the I-65 killer was Vicki Heath, a 41-year-old mother of two who had recently gotten engaged before she was found dead beside the trash cans behind the Super 8 Motel in Elizabethtown, Kentucky on 21 February 1987. She had been assaulted and shot twice in the head with a 38-calibre pistol.

Peggy Gill, Jeanne Gilbert and Vicki Heath were all victims of the I-65, or Days Inn, Killer; their cases went unsolved for decades

The killer’s second and third victims were both slain on the same day: 3 March 1989.

Mary “Peggy” Gill, 24, a night auditor at a Days Inn motel in Merrillville, Indiana, was found dead in the building’s parking lot by a passing motorist. Jeanne Gilbert, 34, a mother of two who also worked as a part-time auditor at the Remington Days Inn, was also fatally shot with the same .22-calibre. The attacker had robbed both premises, making off with $426 in total.

A fourth woman working the night shift at a Days Inn motel in Columbus, Ohio, was sexually assaulted and stabbed in 1990 but managed to escape the scene. The DNA retrieved was matched to Mr Greenwell, who not only had a criminal history but had repeatedly escaped from prison.

According to a Tuesday press release from the Indiana State Police, the process involved “uploading a crime scene DNA profile to one or more genetic genealogy databases in an attempt to identify a criminal offender’s genetic relatives and locate the offender within their family tree.

Harry Edward Greenwell, pictured in an undated mugshot, passed away in 2013

“Utilizing this process, a match was made to Greenwell with a close family member. Through this match it was determined that the probability of Greenwell being the person responsible for the attacks was more than 99 percent.”

Mr Carter told reporters on Tuesday that some of the detectives in the department had been working to solve the crimes for “literally generations.”

“There are detectives in this room that have been involved in this for some form or another for literally generations. They’re owed a debt of gratitude we can never possibly repay,” he said.

Their efforts were appreciated by the families of the victims, with a number of relatives attending Tuesday’s conference.

Unsolved Killings

“I’d like to believe that whatever each of us defines as justice, or what each of us might define as closure, that we’re all now able to share the healing process knowing the long known attacker has now been brought out of the dark, into the light,” Kimberly Gilbert Wright, the daughter of victim Jeanne Gilbert, said.

The obituary of his mother’s alleged killer, however, paints a very different picture of Greenwell. He died in Iowa in 2013 after a cancer battle, it read.

Greenwell was “a man with many friends who loved his straight-up attitude, and his willingness to help anyone,” the obituary wroge. “His spirit will live on in many by good deeds he offered.“ As a employee of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, providing public safety for 30 years, he retired February 2010. Harry enjoyed organic gardening, selling his organic produce at the local Farmers Market, traveling, reading, wordsmithing, avid college sports fan, and selecting winning thoroughbred horses.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in