February 28, 2024
For three decades, police in Kentucky and Indiana were confounded by a spree of fatal attacks that occurred along the I-65 corridor in the 80’s and 90’s. Then, thanks to “investigative genealogy” police identified Harry Edward Greenwell — who died in 2013 — as the man behind crimes...

For three decades, police in Kentucky and Indiana were confounded by a spree of fatal attacks that occurred along the I-65 corridor in the 80’s and 90’s. 

Then, thanks to “investigative genealogy” police identified Harry Edward Greenwell — who died in 2013 — as the man behind crimes.

“I hope that today might bring a little bit of solace to you, to know that the animal that did this is no longer on this Earth,” Douglas G. Carter of the Indiana State Police, told the victims’ surviving relatives at a news conference

Authorities tracked down Greenwell by uploading “crime scene DNA” to “one or more genetic genealogy databases.”

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

The so-called “I-65” or “Days Inn” attacks took place between 1987 and 1990. 

On Feb. 21, 1987, 41-year-old Vicki Heath was found behind the Super 8 Motel in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The recently-engaged mother of two had been s*xually assaulted and shot twice in the head.

Two years later, the I-65 attacker struck again. On March 3, 1989, he shot 24-year-old Margaret “Peggy” Gill at the Days Inn in Merrillville, Indiana. 

Hours later, he abducted 34-year-old Jeanne Gilbert at gunpoint from the Days Inn in Remington, Indiana, and left her body in a ditch 15 miles away.

The attacker also robbed the two motels of $426.

The next year, he struck once more, on Jan. 2, 1990, throwing coffee in the face of an unidentified woman working as a clerk at the Days Inn in Columbus, Indiana, and then r*peing her at knifepoint.

The woman escaped with her life and described her attacker had greasy gray hair and a lazy right eye, providing investigators with a sketch for the first time. 

Despite this new information, the case went cold.

Investigators never gave up, with some detectives working the case “for literally generations.”

With very few clues to work with, they did their best to make connections. 

They’d connected the Gill and Gilbert murders through ballistic evidence and the Heath, Gilbert, and Jane Doe attacks through DNA evidence.

In 2019, the Indiana State Police also started working with the FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team (GRIT). 

They uploaded crime scene DNA to genealogical databases and found a match to Greenwell.

“Greenwell had an extensive criminal history and had been in and out of prison several times, even escaping from jail on two separate occasions,” Indiana State Police Sergeant Glen Fifield explained.

News of his identity was, nonetheless, likely to shock to those closest to him. 

After his death in 2013, Greenwell’s obituary described him as “a man with many friends who loved his straight-up attitude, and his willingness to help anyone.”

His victims’ surviving relatives, though, are just relieved to finally know the name of the man who took the lives of their loved ones.

“Our family is extremely grateful to all of the agencies, along with agency partnerships, who have committed to keeping these unsolved cases at the forefront for more than 33 years, and who have worked tirelessly to bring these cases to resolution for all who have suffered from these crimes,” said Kimberly Wright, the daughter of Jeanne Gilbert.

Superintendent Carter asserted that cases like this, solved by DNA, should act as a warning to other potential criminals.

“The message is: You might be able to hide for a while, but we’re going to find you, even if you’re no longer here,”

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