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3rd woman's body found at home of man charged with two other murders

A woman whose remains were found in the backyard of an Indiana man already charged with two other murders a decade apart apparently was strangled, according to news reports.

NBC station WAVE of Louisville reported Saturday that the remains found Friday in New Albany, Ind., were identified as those of 35-year-old Stephanie Marie Kirk, who disappeared in March. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Floyd County Coroner Leslie Knable said the preliminary cause of death was strangulation and it was uncertain how long she had been dead.  

"Relieved in a way," Kirk’s grandmother, Betty Kirk, told WAVE when asked her reaction. "Knowing that she's not tied up in a room somewhere held prisoner, or whatever. Now, she's in heaven with her mother."

The remains were found at the home of William Clyde Gibson, a registered sex offender charged in the death of 45-year-old Karen Hodella and 75-year-old Christine Whitis. Hodella disappeared in 2002, and her body was found early the next year. Whitis was found dead April 19 at Gibson’s mother’s home in New Albany. Gibson was arrested later that day.

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said Friday that after Gibson’s arrest he implicated himself in the deaths of Hodella and Whitis, the News and Tribune of Jeffersonville, Ind., reported.

Kirk, of Charlestown, Ind., was last seen when she left a friend's house in New Albany on March 25, perhaps to meet a man to go motorcycling, WAVE reported. Betty Kirk said it was unlike her granddaughter, who had a teenage daughter, not to contact her father.

"I want her to come home,” her father, Tony Kirk, said this week, WAVE reported. “She's got a daughter. We both miss her. We both worry about her, can't sleep. Her daughter can't sleep."

Crews began digging in Gibson's yard Friday based on information they developed earlier in the day.

A next-door neighbor, Melodie Shultz, told the Courier-Journal that she had known Gibson since childhood and that he had been in trouble with the law off and on, but that he had always been willing to help out around the neighborhood.

“You never know who is living next door,” Shultz told the Courier-Journal.

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