Suspect in 'Days Inn' Cold Case Murders, Assault Identified
Use of Investigative Genealogy Led to Break in Case
INDIANAPOLIS—More than 30 years after three young women were murdered, and another brutally assaulted, the man responsible has been identified using investigative genealogy. This is a unique method that can generate new leads for unsolved homicides, as well as help identify unknown victims.
Harry Edward Greenwell was identified through this method as the person responsible for the four attacks. Greenwell died in 2013 at the age of 68 in New Albin, Iowa. Greenwell had an extensive criminal history ranging from 1963 to 1998.
Dubbed the I-65, or Days Inns murders, Greenwell robbed and murdered three young women, and left a fourth for dead, in a series of attacks at hotels in Kentucky and Indiana.
The cases Greenwell has been connected to include:
- February 21, 1987—Vicki Heath was murdered at the Super 8 Motel in Elizabethtown, Kentucky
- March 3, 1989 – Margaret “Peggy” Gill was murdered at the Days Inn in Merrillville, Indiana
- March 3, 1989 – Jeanne Gilbert was murdered at the Days Inn in Remington, Indiana
- January 2, 1990—Jane Doe was sexually assaulted at the Days Inn in Columbus, Indiana
Following the murders, the Indiana State Police lab matched ballistic evidence linking the Gill and Gilbert murders. The ISP Lab further connected the Heath and Gilbert murders, and the sexual assault of the Columbus victim, through DNA analysis.
In 2019, the Indiana State Police requested the assistance of the FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team (GRIT). Since these crimes were committed, many investigative and scientific techniques have either improved or been created through new advances in technology. One of these methods is Investigative Genealogy and combines the use of DNA analysis with traditional genealogy research and historical records to generate investigative leads for unsolved violent crimes.
This technique involves 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. 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.
Agents in the Houston FBI Field Office provided invaluable assistance in solving the case.
“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 (Gilbert) Wright, daughter of Jeanne Gilbert.
“Indiana State Police investigators work diligently every day, in close collaboration with our state and federal law enforcement partners all across Indiana and beyond our state lines, to help solve senseless crimes like this one, no matter how many days, months or even years have passed since the crime occurred”, said Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas G. Carter.
“These cases did not go unsolved all these years because of a lack of investigative inactivity—investigators continuously tracked leads across the country and did everything they could to identify the person responsible for these crimes,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton. “Now, through technological advances and strong, collaborative partnerships we were able to identify this person and, hopefully, start to bring closure and healing to the families of Vicki, Peggy, and Jeanne; as well as the surviving victim.”
“This case represents the generational dedication of the Elizabethtown Police Department and the forward-thinking of our detectives when science and law enforcement was in its infancy. Our detectives take each case personal, and they work diligently, never giving up that one day their case will see closure,” said Elizabeth Deputy Chief of Operations David Fegett. “We hope and pray this multi-agency collaboration will help bring long overdue closure to the families and friends of Mrs. Heath and the other victims.”