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Cold Case Solved After Vilas Man Drives Cross Country To Confess To 1997 Murder of Woman in Bullhead City, Ariz.

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 17, 2014. Matthew Gibson, 55, of Vilas, drove from Western North Carolina to Winslow, Ariz., in June to confess to murdering a 38-year-old woman more than 15 years ago, according to the Mohave Valley Daily News.

Gibson turned himself in on June 5 and was recently sentenced to more than 10 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge.


Gibson confessed to murdering Barbara Leone Brown in Bullhead City, Ariz., in 1997. As his attorney Ron Gilleo told The Associated Press, “He just wanted it off his chest.”

Gibson provided authorities with a written statement in August: “Only the good Lord knows what that night was all about, but I’m deeply sorry for that night,” he wrote. “For years now, I have weeped (sic) over this and it has been heavy on my soul.”

The Mohave Valley Daily News noted that Gibson told investigators that he killed a woman sometime between 1994 and 1997. His description of the crime coincided with details of Brown’s unsolved death.

Gibson told authorities that he hit her with a flashlight after an argument and dumped her body along the Colorado River. The AP reported that her body was found years ago in “thick bushes along the river.”

“She had multiple skull fractures. Her husband had reported her missing several days earlier,” according to the report.

Authorities said the two weren’t romantically involved.

The homicide was a cold case and likely wouldn’t have been solved without Gibson’s confession.

“His name was never in any report. We didn’t even know he existed,” Mohave County assistant prosecutor Jace Zack told the AP. “I am 100 percent certain that he would not have been caught if he didn’t turn himself in.”