The FBI solves the 1994 murder of a Gary woman, a Kentucky man is charged

LAKE COUNTY, Indiana (WANE) — A Kentucky man has been charged with rape and murder in a 1994 cold case, the FBI said in a news release Tuesday.

The FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team (GRIT) has been working with the Indiana State Police since 2020 to solve the case of 69-year-old Gloria Hansell, who investigators say was found strangled to death at her home in Gary on June 17, 1994.

Hansell was a widow who lived alone and relied on an oxygen machine at home for health reasons, the press release said.

While re-examining the case, GRIT investigators determined that 60-year-old Gerald Lynn Smith knew Hansell and was close to Gary’s murder, the FBI said in the release.

When Smith was 32, he moved back to the Gary area from out of state, a witness told investigators. The witness said Smith went to Hansell’s home at least twice in the weeks leading up to her murder.

The witness said Smith one day asked Hansell if he could mow her grass for money, but she declined his offer. Another time, Hansell said Smith was at her house and made an unwelcome thrust that made her uncomfortable when he tried to kiss her neck, the witness said.

Smith, who police say is from Madisonville, Kentucky, became a suspect in 2020 linked to a man’s DNA found in Hansell’s sexual assault kit collected at her autopsy.

Lake County prosecutors have charged Smith with murder, murder during the commission, or attempted rape and rape in connection with what the FBI has described as a brutal murder.

Smith, who was held at the Hopkins County Jail in Kentucky, was arrested on September 30. According to the public file, extradition proceedings are ongoing.

Other agencies involved in the investigation are the Gary Police Dept., the Lake County Police Dept. Crime Scene Unit and the Hopkins County, Kentucky Sheriff’s Dept.

The FBI said in the release that GRIT investigators are still asking anyone with information on this case or any other cold case to call 219-942-4899. The FBI solves the 1994 murder of a Gary woman, a Kentucky man is charged

Dais Johnston

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