The murder of Rhonda Krehbiel by Chester L. Higgenbotham is featured in the latest episode of The Face of Evil on Investigation Discovery.
On May 20, 1994, Krehbiel and her two daughters were eating ice cream and watching TV in the living room of their home in Newton, Kansas, when they got a knock at the front door.
When Krehbiel opened the door, it was Higgenbotham, but her young daughters said they didn’t recognize him. He put the girls in a bedroom closet and told them to be quiet. The then-36-year-old went on to tie Krehbiel’s hands and feet and put a gag in her mouth as she sat on a bed in her bedroom. A short while later, the girls heard loud noises similar to gunshots, which led them to believe their mother had been shot.
At around 4:25 p.m. that day, Krehbiel’s brother-in-law Kevin arrived at the home. When relatives were unable to reach Krehbiel, they asked him to check on her and the girls. Kevin was told to get a spare key from behind the home, but he didn’t need to as the sliding glass door was open.
As Kevin searched the home, he found Krehbiel’s daughters in the closet. They told him what happened, and he immediately called 911 and got the girls out of there, believing the intruder may have still been in the house.
When officers arrived at the scene, they made a gruesome discovery. They found Krehbiel’s nude body in her bedroom with a white sock tied around her neck. Authorities said she had been beaten to death with an object.
Krehbiel’s murder remained unsolved until police began investigating the disappearance of Jonetta McKown in 1995. Officers revisited her case when they realized that McKown and Krehbiel were bound and gagged in a similar manner.
An investigation revealed that a week before Krehbiel’s murder, she and Higgenbotham ran into each other at a motel, where Higgenbotham worked as an assistant manager. Krehbiel was at the inn attending a meeting with the Christian Women’s Club.
Higgenbotham’s co-workers said he and Krehbiel got into an argument over the price of the meals. Apparently, the meals were usually sold at a discounted price during their meetings but on that day, the motel was selling meals at full price and Krehbiel wasn’t too thrilled about that.
Employees at the inn told police that Higgenbotham became so angry that he yelled out an expletive and slammed a book and coffee mug. After Krehbiel’s murder, his co-workers said he came to work with a swollen eye. When officers searched Higgenbotham’s storage unit, they found a pair of sunglasses that were similar to the ones found underneath Krehbiel’s bed.
When DNA testing was executed on the sunglasses found in the victim’s home, the results showed that Higgenbotham was a match. He was arrested and charged with premeditated first-degree murder and kidnapping.
Higgenbotham was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murdering Krehbiel, along with 40 years for kidnapping. He tried to appeal his murder conviction but it was denied.
The Face of Evil — A Knock At The Door, airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.