Vermont June 09, 2019
The Puzzling Unsolved Murder In Vermont That Still Haunts One Small Town
Draw the blinds, check under the bed, and crawl under the covers for this spooky tale straight out of Vermont’s hidden history. If true crime is your thing, you’ll get a thrill out of hearing about the mysterious unsolved death of Orville Gibson.
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The story of one of Vermont’s most chilling murders begins in Newbury on the morning of December 31, 1957.
Just over 60 years ago, prominent and successful dairy farmer Orville Gibson woke up around 3:30 a.m. to milk his cows. He rolled out of bed, bundled up warmly, pulled on his boots, and stepped outside with a metal pail.
Gibson walked across his lawn, crossed the road separating his home from his barn, and stepped into the wooden structure.
And that’s all we know for sure. That’s because Orville Gibson wasn’t seen again for just under three months. When he finally resurfaced, it was in the Connecticut River, a full 85 days after he was reported missing by his distressed wife.
Officers found evidence of a struggle in the barn – a dented milk pail and some displaced sacks of grain – and came up with a few theories.
Even though the river had been checked early in the hunt, one officer had a hunch that gases in decomposing body might propel it to the surface after a few months. Gibson’s wrists and legs had been bound, suggesting that the death was homicide and not suicide.
Police (and everyone else) suspected that a squabble with an employee may have led to murder.
A short while before his disappearance, Gibson had been arrested in connection with an alleged assault on a farm employee, Eri Martin. According to Martin, Gibson beat him up over two large jugs of spilled milk. But according to Gibson, Martin had arrived drunk to work and angrily spilled the milk when Gibson told him to go home and sleep it off. Martin then tripped over a cart, fracturing his ribs. Interestingly, Martin himself later admitted to police that his injuries "may" have been caused by a fall, not assault.
Eventually, two local men were charged with the crime. They were both acquitted.
High school janitor Robert Orzo "Ozzie" Welch and local petty criminal Frank Carpenter were charged and acquitted for the crime. A local doctor testified that he had seen Welch’s two-toned Kaiser sedan parked on the Gibson farm on the morning of the disappearance. When shown the rope found on Gibson’s body, Welch exclaimed "By God, boys, that’s my rope!"
He gave five different accounts of his whereabouts on the morning of the crime and showed up to a polygraph test having taken so many tranquilizers that police could hardly keep him awake. Upon being acquitted, Welch was heard to say "I never thought I was guilty."
Many people think the residents of the town of Newbury are hiding some dark secrets.
Following the trials, rumors began floating around town that as many as 50 locals knew what had really happened that morning. According to newspaper piece published in 1987, some locals whispered that a group of nine drunk men had intended to tie up Gibson and leave him on the town common to be found, but that the farmer had accidentally been suffocated.
We’ll probably never know exactly how Gibson ended up in the Connecticut River.
By now, most of the locals who were around during the crime have moved away, died, or are simply unwilling to talk about the case. However, some claim that the spirit of Orville Gibson lingers around the Connecticut River and the site of his former farm.
Have you ever heard of the Orville Gibson disappearance? Looking for more of the spookiest stories in Vermont? Click
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