Tina McMenamin, an 18-year-old UNL freshman, was stabbed and sexually assaulted in her residence on July 25, 1995.
Gregory Gabel, a mentally unwell Lincoln man, was arrested within the murder and has at all times been the prime suspect, an investigator mentioned, even after pivotal DNA proof didn’t hyperlink him to the crime scene. Gabel has a computerlike reminiscence for numbers and details and a historical past of following girls at companies and public occasions, retired investigator Wealthy Doetker mentioned in 2005.
McMenamin was killed within the minutes earlier than she was due at work at Godfather’s Pizza at 5:30 p.m. that night time in 1995. Roommate Sarah Bognich discovered her good friend in a pool of blood that night time.
“The residence was ransacked. I walked previous the bed room a few instances earlier than noticing her on the ground. My life modified after that. I attempted to return (to school), and I could not ever end.”
A single hair clutched in McMenamin’s hand led police to Gabel. It matched his DNA, a one-in-1,049 probability. Circumstantial proof additionally linked Gabel to the residence constructing. And a person matching Gabel’s description was seen fleeing the crime scene, Amberwood Residences, 4600 Briarpark Drive.
That night time, Gabel was a block away at a Sonic Drive-In. He was there each Tuesday night time, cleansing up in trade for meals. And Gabel had earlier convictions for third-degree sexual assault and public indecency. Police arrested him a 12 months after the crime.
However two years later, when a unique DNA take a look at proved the hair was not Gabel’s, he was launched. That hair, nevertheless, did not essentially belong to the killer, Doetker mentioned. The investigator additionally has suspicions in regards to the validity of the second DNA take a look at, performed in a Pennsylvania lab.
“There have been questions that got here up: Was it the correct hair? The identical hair?” he mentioned.
Homicide expenses had been dropped towards Gabel with the hope that further proof can be discovered to re-arrest him, Doetker mentioned. If the case went to trial and Gabel was discovered harmless, Doetker added, he couldn’t be retried if new proof got here to gentle.
Mary Hepburn-O’Shea, who has labored within the psychological well being discipline in Lincoln for many years and has recognized Gabel for a lot of of these years, mentioned in 2005 that the person misplaced two years in jail for one thing he did not do.
Hepburn-O’Shea runs downtown O.U.R. Properties, the town’s largest supplier for developmentally disabled folks that additionally homes individuals with psychological diseases. Gabel lives and works there. “He is a bizarre child,” she mentioned. “He isn’t ever a violent child.”
Then-Assistant Police Chief Jim Peschong, talking in 2005, added you could’t strive a case on private beliefs and supposition. Peschong mentioned he personally believes there’s a suspect within the crime, however he declined naming anybody.