Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters discovered the charred body of Joy Hibbs, 36, in her son’s bedroom. It initially appeared Hibbs had tragically perished in an accidental house fire, but an autopsy revealed that was not the case. She had been stabbed numerous times and strangled. Police believed whoever killed her started the fire to cover their tracks.
It’s now been more than two decades since that afternoon, but the crime still baffles local law enforcement. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, several neighbors were home during the time police estimate Hibbs was murdered, but none heard anything suspicious.
“It’s unusual when you don’t have anything to go on,” Detective Lt. Richard Bilson told the newspaper back in July of 1991. “No one is a good suspect, no one disliked them. They were an average family, raising their kids.”
One of Hibbs's young children was the one who discovered the fire. David Hibbs was only 12 when he came home after school and discovered a thick wall of smoke when he tried to go inside. “I was hysterical and crying out, ‘Help, help my mom is in there,’ and I got the attention of a neighbor who was weed whacking,” David told the Huffington Post last March. “I’ve grown up feeling like there is always something missing.”
Hibbs's activities that day were not unusual for her. That morning she had gone to the supermarket, and then a local reverend and another member from the church stopped by to see if the family was interested in joining.
“She said, “See you in church on Sunday,’ and walked us outside and we left,” Rev. Furie Orlando told the Inquirer that July.
Hibbs’s husband of 18 years passed a polygraph, and police reportedly never considered him a person of interest in the case. In fact, police have been stumped from the beginning in identifying anyone would have wanted to kill the mother of two.
Bristol Township Police say the case is still active and ongoing, but no persons of interest or suspects have been identified.
If you have any information that can help crack this cold case, please call the Bristol Township Police at (215) 788-8289.