Suspected serial killer indicted on 41 felony charges after ‘staggering crime spree’ in Philly, Delaware

A Wilmington police vehicle.

A Wilmington police vehicle. (Zack Seward/WHYY)

A Delaware man has now been charged with four murders while on probation this year, including three that occurred after a judge set Keith Gibson free over the initial objections of corrections officials.

The latest development in the saga of Gibson’s alleged crimes came late Tuesday when a New Castle County grand jury indicted the 39-year-old Philadelphia native on 41 felony counts. The charges stem from two killings and the attempted murder, assault, and/or robbery of four other people in northern Delaware.

The new indictment charges Gibson with:

  • Shooting 28-year-old Leslie Ruiz-Basilio to death on May 15 during a robbery at Metro PCS store on Kirkwood Highway in Elsmere and then stealing her SUV
  • Shooting 42-year-old Ronald Wright to death during a street robbery in Wilmington on June 5
  • Harming four other unidentified victims before he was captured while armed with a loaded gun and wearing body armor after a robbery at a Wilmington Rite-Aid on June 8

Philadelphia police, who in June accused Gibson of being a serial killer, have also charged him with two murders this year. Police say Gibson killed his mother, 54-year-old Christine Gibson, in February. The other alleged victim was 41-year-old Christina Lugo, who police say Gibson fatally shot as she opened the North Philadelphia Dunkin’ store she managed on June 5.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings addressed the allegations in both states after the new indictments.

She called Gibson’s alleged actions “one of the most vicious, staggering crime sprees I’ve seen in my career. It is even more disturbing to think, based on what investigators have revealed in Pennsylvania, that this may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

Jennings said Delaware prosecutors “will ensure that this man faces justice for the senseless carnage that he has caused.”

Wilmington police Chief Robert Tracy called the alleged crimes a “senseless, ruthless” spree of violence. The charges “reflect the brutal nature of this individual’s crimes, as well as the significant risk he posed to public safety in our community and throughout our region,” Tracy said.

Jennings’ spokesperson Mat Marshall said Wednesday that Delaware is still weighing whether to return Gibson to Philadelphia to face charges there, or handle his criminal matters in Delaware first.

“Gibson is charged or suspected in extraordinarily serious offenses in two states, and we’ll follow the code to ensure a fair, just disposition of those charges in both Delaware and Pennsylvania,’’ Marshall told WHYY News. “We’re currently assessing our options on how charging will be sequenced across different jurisdictions. Ultimately it’s too early to say right now.”

Freed after judge seeks ‘appropriate sanction’

Gibson had been released on probation on Dec. 20 after serving about 13 years of a 20-year sentence for manslaughter and a firearms conviction tied to the fatal shooting of Stanley “Savon” Jones in Wilmington. Gibson had been released in June to a less restrictive facility, but was returned to prison after getting in a fight, records show.

Six weeks after securing his freedom, Philadelphia police picked up Gibson for questioning after his mother was killed on Feb. 8. Delaware authorities were alerted and cited him for violating his probation by leaving the state without permission.

His probation officer initially wanted Delaware Superior Court Judge Vivian L. Medinilla to have Gibson serve the remaining 6 ½ years on his original sentence.

The violation report cited Gibson’s “extensive history of violence’’ and “documented anger issues,” including 64 previous criminal charges, with nine convictions for felonies and 15 for misdemeanors.

Besides the manslaughter/weapons conviction, which had been pleaded down from a first-degree murder count, Gibson’s other offenses included assault and terroristic threatening. He had also violated probation 14 times over the years.

During an April 13 sentencing hearing, Medinilla said she would not consider the fact that Gibson was a suspect in his mother’s killing in her sentence. She also asked whether that was an “appropriate sanction” for the technical violation of leaving the state, and scheduled a second hearing on the matter for April 27.

At that hearing, a different probation officer handling the matter instead asked for an additional month in prison.

Medinilla gave Gibson 31 days behind bars on April 27, but since he had already been in custody that long after being returned to Delaware from Philadelphia, she freed him that day.

Over the next six weeks, police say, Gibson has allegedly killed three people and committed several other violent crimes.

Medinilla and court officials would not discuss the sentence with WHYY, but Department of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis told a reporter in June that the Gibson case is yet another in a troubling “pattern” of judges and defense attorneys pushing back on probation officers who seek “hard jail time” for violent offenders who violate the terms of their release.

“It happens time and time again,” DeMatteis said, “and it’s what happened in this case.”

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