Dr. John E. Gibbs has been sentenced to 50 years behind bars for the murder of Zulma Pabon, despite the fact that her body was never found.
In a rare case of a murder trial with no body found, the jury felt there was enough evidence pointing to Gibbs’ guilt. But how? We have an overview of the evidence, and how a man who thought he got away with murder was caught.
Missing Woman Presumed Murdered
Zulma Pabon hasn’t been seen in nearly four years, leaving behind her boyfriend, Dr. John E. Gibbs and their son. The defense tried to paint Pabon’s lifestyle as a party girl as the reason she never came home. That her drinking, or possibly her fragile mental state, led to her disappearance. Pabon admitted to co-workers that she began cutting herself.
A number of friends and co-workers described the relationship between Gibbs and Pabon as loving. One of the last times the two were seen together, they were having lunch.
The Evidence Mounts
But as the short trial went on, the evidence against Gibbs began to mount. Shortly after Pabon didn’t show up for work on June 9, 2014, according to a number of people, Gibbs’ behavior was odd. He didn’t cooperate with police, for one. While it was his constitutional right not to work with police, it seemed odd.
There was the fact that Gibbs traveled to North Carolina and bought a number of bottles of drain cleaner and muriatic acid. Gibbs moved Pabon’s car on June 7, 2014, away from their home, and then walked back to the residence.
The car was later found outside of a trailer park with a small smear of blood found on the inside of the trunk. Right after Pabon disappeared, Gibbs took a 10-day road trip to California with two children. He never even mentioned to his sister that Pabon was missing.
There was also the fact that Gibbs had a curious Internet search history leading up to Pabon’s disappearance, with incriminating web searches for the amount of ether needed for someone to be rendered unconscious, and “how to disappear.”
The Jury Hands Down Its Verdict
While John Gibbs’ activity was odd and, definitely in some cases, suspicious, did it mean that he murdered Zulma Pabon? After all, as there was nobody, an argument could be made that she wasn’t even dead. The prosecution didn’t even focus on how Pabon may have died, just the fact that their evidence pointed to her having been murdered.
That was the task set before the jury, and they didn’t take long to figure out a verdict. Nine days into the trial, a jury of three men and nine women delivered back to the judge a verdict of guilty in December 2017. Formal sentencing took place on March 12, 2018, with Gibbs being sentenced to 50 years in prison. He is expected to appeal the decision.