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Knox County
Jeffrey WHIPPS
The small town of Vincennes, Indiana is known to many in the Tri-State as the town where murders are rarely solved, but that reputation is now changing. In the last year police believe they've solved three of those cases. As you've probably seen on the news, 23 year old Brian Jones has been charged with two murders. He recently pleaded guilty to the July 4th, 1999 murder of Erika Norman and he's awaiting a December trial for the September 7th, 1997 murder of Brook Baker. 19 year old Lisa McCracken was murdered October 13th, 1987. Thirteen years later police announced DNA evidence found in McCracken's apartment and on her body matched that of convicted murderer Jeffrey Whipps. Whipps had been arrested in June of 1995, but not for McCracken's murder. He was in prison convicted for the murder of another Vincennes teenager, 15 year old Jill Slater. A recent DNA test by Indiana State Police linked both murders to Whipps. He is currently serving 89 years for Slater's murder and awaiting trial for the McCracken murder. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty. Police say that leaves one unsolved murder in Vincennes. Kathleen Westfall was 44 years old when she was murdered May 31, 1995. She was reported missing after she didn't show up for work at Good Samaritan Hospital. When police arrived at 8:15pm at her apartment on Bayou Street, they found her beaten to death. An autopsy showed she suffered blunt trauma to the head and upper body. She had been dead for several hours. Police say Westfall was struck numerous times with what they call "a smooth surfaced object." Her apartment showed no signs of forced entry, so detectives believe she probably knew her attacker enough to let the person into her home. There also weren't many signs of a struggle, indicating the attacker may have caught her off guard when she wasn't looking. Police say Westfall wasn't sexually assaulted, but wouldn't comment on whether any items were stolen from her apartment.  When Westfall was murdered, Jeffrey Whipps had not yet been arrested for either the Slater or McCracken murders. Westfall was murdered in May of 1995, Whipps was arrested 22 days later. Ironically, Westfall lived directly across the street from Slater. Indiana State Police Detective Gary Gilbert says Whipps was never considered a suspect in the Westfall murder because the method of killing was completely different from the Slater and McCracken murders. Westfall was beaten, Slater and McCracken were stabbed and their two crimes had many other striking similarities. The Indiana State Police still actively investigate the Westfall case and hope they can soon add it to their "Solved Cases."
Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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