A North Carolina man traveled to Arizona to confess he killed a woman 17 years ago after he became convinced someone had learned of his crime and began sending him mysterious messages.
Those phone calls, text messages, and letters, as it turned out, came from Walmart in an apparent mix-up, reported the Charlotte Observer.
Matthew Gibson traveled cross-country in June to admit to the homicide after the strange messages made him paranoid he would be caught.
He told a detective in Winslow that he met a woman late one night in 1997 in Bullhead City, and they went back to his trailer.
The 55-year-old Gibson, who was addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine at the time, said the woman became loud and obnoxious and refused to leave.
He told police he bludgeoned the woman with a flashlight and dumped her body along the Colorado River.
Police said the homicide likely would never have been solved if Gibson had not come forward.
Gibson said he began receiving voice mail and text messages informing Anita Townshed that her prescription was ready.
He then received an envelope with a Walmart advertisement inside but no return name or address.
Gibson said he became convinced someone was toying with him, believing the slain woman may have been named Anita Townshed.
He feared his calls were being monitored and a contract was placed on his life, and he fled to Arizona to confess out of fear for his life.
However, the victim was actually named Barbara Brown Agnew, who was 38 when she was killed.
The newspaper reported that three women named Anita Townshed lived in North Carolina, including one not far from Gibson’s home in Boone.
His attorney said Gibson had found religion in recent years and the killing weighed on his conscience.
But detectives said Gibson told them the messages convinced him to turn himself in.
Gibson wanted to plead guilty to manslaughter and begin his 10-year sentence right away.
September 23, 2014
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