BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Nearly 20 years after someone ambushed and executed a West Chester man and his dogs, the case remains unsolved, but investigators say they aren’t giving up.
George Gibson was murdered on June 22, 2000, according to West Chester Police.
The 47-year-old veterinarian pathologist worked at Procter and Gamble’s now defunct Miami Valley laboratory plant. The day he died, he got a call that caused him to leave work early. What was normally a 20 to 30 minute drive from work to home, police said, took Gibson two hours.
“No bank activity, no credit card activity, no genie machine stuff. Nothing," Lt. David Tivin, a West Chester detective, told FOX19 NOW. "I don’t know where he went. I don’t know what he did, but he did something.”
A witness saw Gibson arrive at home and watched him pull into his home garage and shut the garage door. However, the next morning, Tivin says Gibson did not show up for work.
When his wife, who police said was in New York on business at the time, could not reach him, she reached out for help.
“We go over with just a routine check on, the welfare type of call," Tivin explained. "The officer finds the front door open, goes inside the house and finds Mr. Gibson deceased and shot numerous times in the house.”
After entering the home, detectives said they found Gibson and his pets were dead. The killer, police said, had shot two of the couple’s large Bernese Mountain dogs, then pointed the gun at Gibson, pulling the trigger nine times.
“There was really no evidence of a burglary, no evidence of robbery, no evidence of any other assault other than the gunshots," Tivin said.
As police started piecing the puzzle together, one thing became clear to them - this wasn’t just murder, it was overkill. The person who took Gibson’s life, police said, had been waiting for him inside his own home, taking the opportunity to ambush and attack him.
“It could indicate passion. It could indicate rage. It could indicate revenge," Tivin said. "It could also indicate the closeness of the connection.”
Police said those who knew Gibson described him as a kind-hearted person who was gentle, intelligent, honest and private. Eventually, secrets started to surface.
“Nothing illegal or terribly wrong, it was just things that were out of character for him," Tivin said.
The seemingly happily married man had been using a phone dating service, detectives learned. That gave them a new possible motive.
“Was something staged? Was something done intentionally to try to throw us off? What was this relationship? What was the motivation behind it?” Tivin mused.
Another big tip came from a neighbor. Police said a woman heard popping noises and then saw a man she had never seen before. They used her description to create a sketch of the possible suspect.
Despite what seemed to be solid leads, two decades later, detectives are still hunting for Gibson’s murderer. They are now using state resources to try to tackle new technology.
“We had the DNA supervisor from BCI [Bureau of Criminal Investigation] come down and sit with us and go over everything," Lt. David Tivin said. "She was able to provide insight on other cases she’s worked where they’ve been kind of creative with testing with different types of samples.”
Over the years, the Gibson’s former home has been renovated and re-worked. Gibson’s wife moved away, and new neighbors moved into the area. All the while, behind the scenes, detectives say they have not lost sight of their goal: catching a killer.
“There have been times I have gotten very mad at Mr. Gibson for being so good at keeping secrets," Lt. Tivin said. "He sounded like a great guy. He did not deserve this.”
Police said Gibson’s wife got an attorney, but has cooperated with the investigation.
At the time of the murder, Gibson was involved in animal testing that prompted some protests. Police have looked into a possible connection between the protests and Gibson’s murder, but do not believe it is likely.
Anyone with information on Gibson’s murder is asked to contact West Chester Police at (513) 777-2231. Tips can also be reported anonymously through the department’s website.