Stefanie Silvey Investigates: Wayne Gulley - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Stefanie Silvey Investigates: Wayne Gulley

Wayne Gulley Wayne Gulley
Larry Eck Larry Eck
The composite sketch of the suspects. The composite sketch of the suspects.

Reporter: Stefanie Silvey

It's a story made for Hollywood. Murder, a false conviction, and a confession from the real killer more than 25 years later.

It all happened in Knox County. Sherry Lee Gibson was abducted in 1975 while parking with her boyfriend Lindy Alton. Sherry Lee Gibson was later murdered. Alton gave police a description of the man and woman he said took Gibson at gunpoint and locked him in the trunk of his car.

Despite Alton's account of what happened, 15-year-old John Jeffers was arrested and confessed to the crime. Many including some law enforcement officers never believed he was the killer. Jeffers committed suicide three years later while serving his sentence.

Fast forward 25 years....Ella Mae Dicks confesses to her brother, a detective in Georgia, that she and her ex-husband, Wayne Gulley committed the murder. A gag order is issued in the case, and it's not discussed by anyone. Ella Mae Dicks and her ex-husband Wayne Gulley are convicted.

Now, for the first time, we hear from Wayne Gulley and the detective who made this case his last before retiring. Wayne Gulley is doing 50 years at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Gulley says,"It's still to me hard to understand how I was ever convicted, honestly."

With no physical evidence, it was largely the testimony of his ex-wife that put him here. Gulley says, "The only witness was a long ago ex who has a history of alcoholism and being in and out of mental institutions." Ella Mae Dicks got a 15 year sentence. Gulley says, "It was her word against mine and how they could have convicted me on that, I don't know."

When arrested, Gulley was college educated, working on his second masters degree and didn't have as much as a speeding ticket. Indiana State Police Detective Larry Eck says, "Wayne is a very intelligent man. There is nothing that Wayne couldn't do if he set his mind to it."

So why did detectives and a jury believe her word over his? Eck says, "The only way you can trip someone up is if they are lying. You can't trip her up. She was telling the truth. I don't see how anyone could make this up and look like a composite of the person that did do it, that Lindsey Alton saw."

A very detailed description.

Eck says, "Even down to the mole on her neck. to see how his hair parted...Lindy Alton also saw that."

Stefanie Silvey asked Gulley, "What about the composite sketches, you have to admit they look like you?"

Wayne Gulley: "I don't know, what do you think?"

Stefanie Silvey: "I think they are very similar."

Wayne Gulley: "Are they really? I don't know. Really when I first looked at her sketch the first thing that popped into my mind was that it was Cher."

But Gulley's account was much different in his first taped interrogation with detectives. On the tape, Eck says, "Those two composites I just showed you. Who was that?"

Gulley: "They look like me, I'm not going to deny that. It certainly looks like her."

And that wasn't all that peaked Eck's interest. Gulley says, "I'm wondering if what you say, if IF, I was actually there, and honestly if she described it that much she must have been there and done it, but for her to come in and tell a story I probably wouldn't believe her, but let's just say, could I have just blocked that out also?"

Eck says Ella Mae Dicks knew details never released to the public. "She knew that Sherry had said 'What are you doing, don't hurt me, what do you want?' These are the same comments that Lindy Alton gave in his statement back in '75."

She gave a perfect description of the abandoned house where Gibson was found. Eck: "How did she know where the fireplace was?"

Inside and out. Eck: "How did she know that spindles went up, how did she know that there were two or three steps leading into the house?"

And details of the crime itself. Eck: "How did she know there were three stab wounds to the heart?"

Dicks says she took the knife from Gulley after he said to finish her off. Eck: "She said at that point the girl fell to the floor and she was in the fetal position and she said "I took the knife and I went (slam) and she went (gasp)and she said, ' that sound...(gasp) I've lived with that sound the girl made for 25 years'...and she started crying and kept doing this (slamming knife down motion) I still get chills now."

Gulley says, "My life is never going to be the same. It's going to be hard for me to go back to where I used to live and not have people face me on the street and say, well did he, I wonder if he really did? I'm sorry it wasn't me, it's still not closed."

Retired detective Eck says that's not all Ella Mae Dicks provided police. She admitted to other crimes the couple committed in the same time period. One of which Gulley admitted to...not realizing police had records showing the crime occurred the same night as the Gibson murder and less than a mile away. The other crimes were never prosecuted, because the statute of limitations had expired.

I requested an interview with Ella Mae Dicks but she declined.

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