A KILLER was hiding in plain sight before cops found DNA linking him to a 22-year-old student’s brutal murder – and a series of other crimes.
Mindy Morgenstern was found dead with a belt around her neck on September 13, 2006.
Morgenstern was a senior at Valley City State University but lived in an off-campus apartment.
She was found by her friends Toni Baumann and Danielle Holmstrom, who went to her place after she didn’t respond to phone calls all day.
“I ran inside and knocked on the door and there was no answer. It wasn’t locked and so I opened the door and stepped in,” Baumann said.
“About two steps in, I saw something on the ground right in front of my feet. It was Mindy. And then I noticed something around her neck.”
Cops found a broken knife in her throat and her body was covered in ammonia inside her North Dakota apartment.
Morgenstern’s cause of death was an “incised wound of neck/asphyxia,” according to the autopsy report.
Morgenstern’s apartment seemed untouched and her purse and lanyard were still hanging from her arms.
But her phone and wallet were scattered on the floor, leaving confusion about what exactly happened.
“As I entered, I could smell a very strong odor, like an ammonia disinfectant. The body of the victim was laying across the entry hallway,” Special Agent Mark Sayler of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation told Oxygen.
SEARCH FOR A KILLER
Cops quickly began searching for the student’s murderer, taking DNA from her body and trying to match it with possible suspects.
They looked into a friend’s boyfriend who Morgenstern didn’t get a long with, a man who her coworkers said made Morgenstern feel uncomfortable, and an ex-boyfriend’s dad.
However, the killer ended up being much closer to home.
Cops found DNA under Morgenstern’s fingernails that led to her neighbor, Moe Gibbs, a corrections officer from the Barnes County Jail.
He was a neighbor of the victim’s but claimed to have an alibi – he said he spent the morning at home with his pregnant wife and packed boxes.
The family was moving soon.
Shockingly, the DNA found under Morgenstern’s nail was a match for DNA collected from an unsolved sexual assault in Fargo two years before the murder.
Gibbs was arrested and charged with murder shortly after.
A further investigation revealed that he changed his name from Glen Dale in 2005 and had an extensive criminal background – but was still hired to work at the jail.
Some women also opened up about being sexually assaulted by Gibbs at the jail.
He was charged with six counts of sexual assault for his actions at the jail, one count of sexual assault for the rape in Fargo, and one count of first-degree murder.
He pleaded guilty in the rape and sexual assault cases, Oxygen reported.
Gibbs’ July 2007 trial for Morgenstern’s murder saw a deadlocked jury but he was found guilty in a second trial on November 20, 2007.
MORE INFORMATION TO BE RELEASED
Additional information is set to be released on Morgenstern’s case Friday, February 10, 2023, at 9pm ET on a two-hour Dateline episode on NBC titled “Who Killed Mindy Morgenstern?”
Dateline Correspondent Keith Morrison will report on what he has discovered after diving into the case a bit further.
Morrison interviewed Morgenstern’s friends and family including her parents, Eunice and Larry Morgenstern along with North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Agent Mark Sayler and prosecutor Jonathan Byers.