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Murder of Mindy Morgenstern by Moe Gibbs profiled on Murder in the Heartland

Moe Gibbs mugshot
Moe Gibbs is spending the rest of his life behind bars after murdering Mindy Morgenstern. Pic credit: North Dakota Dept. of Corrections

Murder in the Heartland is investigating the brutal murder of university student Mindy Morgenstern who was found dead in her apartment in Valley City, North Dakota, in 2006.

Her killer was a local prison jailer called Moe Gibbs, who subsequently turned out to have a history of sexual violence.

On September 13, 2006, the body of Valley City State University student Mindy was found in her off-campus apartment. The 22-year-old had been suffocated to death with a belt, and her neck had also been slashed.

The authorities estimated from her computer and cellphone use that she’d died at approximately 12: 30 pm. Her body had been covered in cleaning fluid, and two knives were found at the scene, one of which was propped up against her neck.

There was no sign of forced entry into the apartment.

The police investigation had initially had 13 possible suspects to examine, but it quickly focused on Moe Gibbs, a Barnes County Jail employee who lived in the same apartment complex as Mindy.

A week after the murder, he was arrested after the police noticed he had deep scratches on his hands that appeared to be defensive wounds. Mindy had fought hard for her life.

DNA evidence pointed at Moe Gibbs

DNA samples were taken from under Mindy’s fingernails and were found to match Gibbs.

He argued that he had cut his hands packing and moving boxes out of his apartment. But, he could not explain why his DNA was found on Mindy.

Gibbs’s first trial ended with the jury in deadlock, but a second trial led to his conviction for murder and a life sentence. He has maintained his innocence and has since lodged numerous appeals, all of which have failed.

Following his conviction, Gibbs pleaded guilty to a 2004 rape in Fargo, ND, and also confessed to assaulting five female prisoners where he worked as a corrections officer in Barnes County Jail. He was given an extra 15 years for those charges.

The police also learned that Gibbs had changed his name in 2005 to cover up the fact he’d done jail time for attempted murder while serving in the Navy. The case caused North Dakota to toughen up its criminal background check requirements for prison officers.

More from Murder in the Heartland

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Murder in the Heartland.

Afghan War veteran Michael Lapaglia entered the home of Jack Parkes just a few weeks before he was due to marry and shot him dead so he could ransack the home and steal jewelry.

Daniel French pretended to be a maintenance worker to gain entry into the Mount Pleasant Retirement Community in Middletown, Ohio. Once inside, he incapacitated 87-year-old Barbara Howe with a taser and then murdered her before stealing her belongings.

Murder in the Heartland airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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