What to Know
- Keith Gibson was arrested after allegedly attacking a Rite Aid clerk in Delaware during a robbery. Murder charges have been approved for his alleged killing of a North Philadelphia Dunkin' store manager.
- Gibson was arrested in Philadelphia in February for violating his probation on a Delaware manslaughter conviction. Authorities in both places asked that he remain jailed, but he was released after a Delaware judge sentenced him to time served.
- Police are investigating whether he is responsible for at least six killings in both states, including that of his mother. Three of the killings would have happened after the Delaware judge allowed his release.
Despite pleas from prosecutors, probation officers and police in two states to keep a convicted killer locked up, a Delaware judge authorized the release of the man who is now being investigated in at least six more slayings.
A probation violation report obtained by NBC10 shows that the Delaware Department of Corrections in early February told a judge that Keith Gibson, 39, was violent, had violated his probation by traveling to Philadelphia and that police there had indicated he was the prime suspect in his mother’s murder.
The DOC asked that Gibson be sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for his violation. The judge, whom the DOC said was Vivian Medinilla, instead sentenced him to 31 days, time served, in April. Four of the murders Gibson is linked to happened in May and June. Two happened earlier, in January.
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Medinilla’s office did not respond to a request for comment from NBC10.
Late Friday, DOC spokesperson Jason Miller said that during an April 27 sentencing, Gibson's public defender "cited new factors" asking for time served, "including that Gibson had prospects for stable housing, a job, and community supports upon release."
Without objection from probation and parole officials, the judge accepted the public defender's recommendation for time served and placed him on 18 months of probation, Miller said.
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Gibson was convicted of manslaughter in 2010 and released last year. He was on supervised release and was not to leave Delaware. However, in February, around the time of his mother’s death, Philadelphia police arrested him, though they could only find that he was violating probation by being in the city.
Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said that Gibson’s mother was shot dead at her place of work and that neighbors had brought up Gibson’s name, but investigators did not recover a gun at the time, nor was there video evidence of a suspect.
Gibson was eventually sent back to Delaware.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner acknowledged that police did not have enough probable cause at the time to arrest Gibson for his mother’s death, but he said both the police department and his office attempted to aid the Delaware DOC to keep Gibson off the street.
The Delaware DOC document shows corrections officials told Medinilla that “early reports” suggested Gibson’s mother had told friends and family members that if anything happened to her, her son would be responsible.
They also told Medinilla that Gibson had an “extensive history of violence” – including 29 felony arrests and nine convictions – a documented history of anger issues, and that they felt he posed a threat to himself and the community.
The warnings did not sway Medinilla in accepting the public defender's recommendation.
“I think it is fair to say that there arguably has been a systemic failure when someone with a record this terrible, who has completed a lengthy sentence for homicide, is under very serious consideration for killing his mother – and he remained on the street,” Philadelphia DA Krasner said.
Krasner’s office has approved murder charges against Gibson in the North Philadelphia killing of 40-year-old Dunkin’ manager Christine Lugo over the weekend. They are awaiting his extradition out of Delaware.
Officials have indicated there may be more charges for killings in both Philadelphia and Delaware, including that of 28-year-old Metro by T-Mobile employee Leslie Ruiz-Basilio.
Below is a timeline of key events surrounding Gibson, dating back to his manslaughter conviction.
Gibson was convicted of manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Delaware Department of Corrections spokesman Jason Miller said.
Gibson was released from prison and sent to Level IV Community Corrections custody. Miller said Gibson violated probation by fighting with other offenders and was sentenced to six more months in prison, followed by 18 months of probation.
Gibson was once again released from prison and began his probation term.
Two men were shot dead in a store in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, but police did not recover a gun. Vanore said there still remain questions to be answered in the slayings, but it’s “certainly on our list of cases that we’re looking at” with regard to Gibson’s possible involvement.
Gibson’s mother was shot dead in her place of work in Philadelphia.
Family and friends told police Gibson had been released from jail and raised concerns about his behavior, Vanore said. Police found Gibson had violated probation, but they did not recover a gun, and video didn’t show him at the location of his mom’s murder, meaning any evidence linking Gibson was only “circumstantial,” Vanore said.
In a Delaware Department of Corrections report, Gibson’s probation officer wrote that Philadelphia police had contacted him to tell him Gibson was in their custody and being eyed as a suspect in his mother’s death. The officer requested that Gibson’s probation be revoked and that he be given a maximum sentence.
Gibson was extradited from Philadelphia to Delaware toward the end of the month, according to Miller.
On April 13, a probation violation hearing was held where the judge found Gibson guilty. Sentencing was delayed by two weeks to provide the defense time.
On April 27, at the sentencing hearing, Gibson's public defender presented new evidence that the 39-year-old had community supports lined up as well as job prospects. Parole officials did not object to a recommendation by the public defender to sentence Gibson to time served plus 18 months probation. The judge accepted the recommendation.
On May 15, Leslie Ruiz-Basilio, a mother of two, was shot to death by a masked man while working at an Elsmere, Delaware, Metro by T-Mobile store. The man fled in Ruiz-Basilio’s vehicle. Elsmere police later contacted Philadelphia police, saying the man they were looking for fit the description of a man Philly officers were after in a Fairhill Dunkin’ store murder.
On June 5, a masked man carrying a revolver forced Christine Lugo, also a mother, into a Dunkin’ store in Philadelphia’s Fairhill neighborhood.
Surveillance video captured the suspect forcing Lugo to give him money – which Vanore said amounted to around $300 – before shooting and fleeing. Philadelphia police were then contacted by Elsmere police, and both agencies began working “very closely” together, Vanore said.
Around 2:24 a.m. on June 6, 42-year-old Ronald Wright as shot and killed in a street robbery in Wilmington, Delaware.
On Tuesday, June 7, Gibson was arrested on suspicion of pistol-whipping a Rite Aid clerk during another Wilmington robbery. Police tracked him down by using a GPS tracker that was in some of the money handed over to him.
They found him in possession of a revolver. The same type of weapon was used in the Philadelphia killing of Lugo at the Dunkin’ store.
On Wednesday, June 9, Krasner approved murder charges against Gibson in Lugo’s slaying. Officials have said they expect more charges, both in Philadelphia and Delaware.
NBC10's Tim Furlong and Hannah Gross contributed to this story.