JWife of suspected I-65 serial killer Harry Edward Greenwell feels lucky to be alive, she says exclusively The Independent Wednesday.
Julie Jenkins, 73, had been married to Greenwell for nearly 20 years – and left totally blindsided by Tuesday’s multi-agency press conference naming her husband, who died in 2013, as the killer of at least three women along the border Kentucky-Indiana in the late 1980s.
“One thing that goes through my mind is that I’m lucky to be alive,” said Ms Jenkins, a grandmother who now lives in Minnesota. The Independent.
“My first husband was violent and almost killed me, then the next one decided he was going to kill other people. It’s horrible.”
She says she feels “quite dizzy”.
“I can’t stop thinking about our life together, and he was…kind, he was caring. He had a temper. [but] it’s not unusual. I don’t think you kill people because you’re mad at them – not…strangers. I don’t know what to make of all of this, other than I feel awful for the families who have been through this for so many years – and I know there is nothing I can do.
“I’m sorry. I had no idea.”
Asked if authorities suspected her husband could have more victims, Ms Jenkins said: ‘It’s certainly a possibility. When you know what you’re doing about serial killers, they usually don’t stop – so hopefully, no, praying, there won’t be more victims he’s tied to. But I’m afraid there is a real possibility.
She added: “I feel sorry for those people too – it makes me not trust my judgement.”
Authorities say Greenwell — who was 68 when he died — was identified through a genealogical investigation in the three deaths along the Indiana-Kentucky border.
“This technique involves uploading a crime scene DNA profile to one or more genetic genealogy databases for the purpose of identifying an offender’s genetic relatives and locating the offender in their family tree,” the lawsuit said. Indiana State Police in a statement released Tuesday. “Using this process, a match was made at Greenwell with a close family member. Through this match, it was determined that the probability of Greenwell being the person responsible for the attacks was over 99.99%.”
The first woman known to fall victim to the I-65 killer was Vicki Heath, a 41-year-old mother of two who had recently become engaged before she was found dead next to the trash cans behind the Super 8 Motel in Elizabethtown, Kentucky on February 21, 1987. She had been assaulted and shot twice in the head with a .38 caliber pistol.
The killer’s second and third victims were both killed on the same day: March 3, 1989.
Mary “Peggy” Gill, 24, a night auditor at a Days Inn motel in Merrillville, Indiana, was found dead in the building’s parking lot by a passing motorist. Jeanne Gilbert, 34, a mother of two who also worked as a part-time auditor at the Remington Days Inn, was also shot and killed with the same .22 caliber pistol. The attacker had robbed the two premises, taking $426 in total.
A fourth woman working nights at a Days Inn motel in Columbus, Indiana was sexually assaulted and stabbed in 1990 but managed to escape. This woman, named only Jane Doe, gave police a composite sketch, depicting a man with greasy gray hair, a lazy green eye and a beard.
This sketch was the only clue for decades until DNA evidence linked Greenwell to the crimes.
When Jenkins died in 2013, his obituary gave no hint of his supposedly grim past. He described him as a family man, farmer, benefactor and generous soul after his death in Iowa following a battle with cancer – writing that he had “many friends who loved his straightforward attitude and willingness to help someone.
“His spirit will live on in many good deeds he offered,” he continued – years before he was named a serial killer.
Born in Louisville and one of more than half a dozen siblings – several of whom are also deceased – Greenwell worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway “providing public safety for 30 years” before retiring. in 2010, according to the obituary.
“Harry loved organic gardening, selling his organic produce at the local farmer’s market, traveling, reading, forging words, being passionate about varsity sports and selecting winning thoroughbred horses.”
At the time of his death he was married to Mrs Jenkins, who herself had three adult children; Greenwell had his own son and daughter in addition to living siblings, nieces, a nephew, great-nephews, and a great-niece.
“He liked to garden; he spent hours in his garden,” Ms Jenkins told The Independent. “And he gathered it all together and took it to New Albin [Iowa] some days and sell it to people – and I always thought his main reason for bringing it to the farmers market was to visit everyone who came there.
She says “he grew everything he grew…tomatoes, onions, carrots, beets, squash”.
Before her death in 2013, she said, they lived on a three-bedroom farmhouse outside an Iowa town of about 300 people — and the house faced a state highway.
Ms Jenkins says she was contacted by an FBI agent earlier this year about Greenwell – who told her he had already served time for robbery. She says she was completely flabbergasted by any suggestion that he was involved in the murders of women.
“I couldn’t imagine that from Harry,” she said The Independent. “And I said, ‘You know, he’s been dead for so long already. What good would it do now?’ to dig up old stuff.
“And he said… ‘Don’t you think the families have a right to know?’ And absolutely they do. I didn’t even think of them at the time. I can’t imagine what they’ve been through all these years, which in itself is horrible.
She says she told the FBI where to find Greenwell’s biological son; the suspected serial killer had been married twice before, adopting one woman’s daughter and welcoming a son with the other.
His first wife died in a house fire before Mrs Jenkins met him at a bar in Minnesota.
“I was very suspicious at first, coming from an abusive relationship – but he assured me that [the death of his ex-wife] was not the case,” says Ms Jenkins. “And of course I believed him; I guess I always do.
“He was working on a railroad, I think it was over in Wisconsin…when it happened. She was in Wisconsin too, but they were across the state from what I remember. I believe it was accidental or negligent on his part.
She had no reason, she said, to distrust Greenwell at all; he supported her through her battle with breast cancer and loved her family.
Despite her criminal history, she says, “He just told me it existed and, you know, I thought it was okay… people change – and so you just give people a second chance, and okay, stealing isn’t cool, but he paid for his time.
Greenwell, who was four years older than his third wife, seemed penitent as he was dying of a long cancer, she said – although she has no idea what exactly.
When he was in hospice, “he asked for a priest and a priest came”, says Mrs Jenkins who, unlike her husband, is not Catholic. “I assumed it was for confession, but I doubt he confessed to that.”
She adds: “I just assumed that the priest would have to tell someone he did this, if he did this…and my other thought [since learning of the serial killing allegations] was: If he didn’t confess, what was the point of confessing anything else? Because that would have eclipsed anything.
Ms Jenkins says after her first contact with the FBI, she heard no more of her late husband’s alleged crimes – until this week’s press conference.
“My son, in fact, was aware of it first,” she says. The Independent. “He called me home after work and opened the door for me to watch the press conference – and I feel awful for these poor families who have lost their mothers, their sisters, their children.
“If I had known anything, if I had any idea, I certainly wouldn’t have been silent about it – but I didn’t.”
She adds: “It’s terrifying, and my children feel the same way. I mean, I left them alone with him when I was at work…I live with my son and his family, and I have a grandchild that Harry thought was quite special. They had a connection. »
She says her 17-year-old granddaughter is “pretty devastated about it”.
“I told him last night,” says Ms Jenkins The Independent. “With the internet, you can’t protect children anymore – so I thought she needed to hear it from me, rather than anyone else.”
Friends and family were suitably shocked, she adds, although she has yet to speak to Greenwell’s biological children, siblings or extended family.
“I expect me to reach out and chat with them as much as they want, but yesterday I just didn’t have the energy,” she says.
In addition to being shocked by the news, her main thoughts are with the families of the victims, she adds.
“It was kind of a sucker when the FBI contacted me,” she says. “I was like, ‘Well, this can’t be real. This can’t be…but then this [agent] the family mentioned has a right to know – and I thought, “Absolutely. So I did what I could to point them in the right direction, and then I didn’t hear – and then I almost forgot.
“I just want the families of the victims to know how sorry I am for what they went through. If there had been something I would have known to change the situation before then, I would definitely have done it.
“I don’t know if they would want to contact me about anything, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that happening.”
Of the passionate and lovable gardener she thought she had married, she said, “I guess you think you know someone.
“I thought I knew him, but apparently I didn’t know him very well.”