April 26, 2002
Was it accidental or intentional?
The shooting of a Spencer County man in Warrick County has left investigators wondering for many years whether the man was the target of a violent crime or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Gordon Gilpatrick was shot and killed in April of 2002.
He was a family man who was shot in the head while driving to work one day.
Was this an intentional hit or just a freak accident?
That's what everyone in this case wants to know, and they all believe someone in the Tri-State has the answers.
Described as the rock of the family, Gordon Gilpatrick lived for his family.
"He was marking off the days until it was time for retirement," said Gilpatrick's wife Rita.
Gilpatrick worked at the same Evansville trucking company since 1975. With just 52 days left, he headed to work Friday April 26th, 2002.
"Gordon usually didn't work on Fridays. Fridays was his day that he took off all the time," said Rita Gilpatrick.
He left home a little before 5:00 that morning.
At around 6:00, the phone rang.
Rita said "It was the hospital and they said Gordon was in a car wreck and I said, oh my god."
Family members rushed to be by his side.
"I was thinking he was going to get better and come home," said Rona, Gilpatrick's daughter
"I got to the hospital and I got greeted with a priest," said Rita.
The family had no idea the extent of his injuries and neither did emergency responders.
"Through some tests they determined that there was a bullet lodged in his head," said Brett Kruse of the Warrick County Sheriff's Department.
"There was very little blood at all, just a little trickle of blood right behind the ear," said Kruse.
"I thought I was going to hit the floor, I couldn't believe it," said Rona Kruse. "I was like who would shoot him, a car wreck, how did he get shot, a man going to work. It didn't make sense."
And it didn't make sense to investigators either.
"There was a six inch gap from the window to the top of the door where the shot would have had to come through because the window was not damaged and the frame of the door was not damaged," said Kruse.
The speed limit was 50 at the time of the shooting and it was still dark.
"It could be a total freak accident or it could have been an intentional shot," said Kruse. "However being an intentional shot, if the shooter was sitting still with the vehicle moving at 50 miles an hour, that would be a tough shot to make."
Gilpatrick was seen immediately afterward by a truck driver who thought he was a drunk driver.
Gilpatrick nearly ran the trucker off the road on 62 before going down an embankment and crashing off Old Boonville Highway.
Within 15 minutes of that sighting, several calls came into Evansville dispatch about another unusual driver nearby.
"There was a couple of truck drivers west bound on state road 66/Lloyd expressway, near Burkhardt Road," said Kruse. "One of the truck drivers saw a young man in a gray or silver Toyota pickup truck holding what was believed to be a handgun and the truck driver actually put down the window and hollered at the young man and the young man threw the gun down into the seat or floor of the truck."
A woman also called about a man with a gun in what she thought was a gray Ford Bronco.
Both callers said the man appeared to be in his late teens to early twenties with dark hair and both described his demeanor as bizarre.
"Like he was spaced out or in shock of some kind," Kruse said.
That man was never located, and Gordon Gilpatrick was pronounced dead at the hospital.
"I wish I would have been around more often when he needed me, because you always think he would live forever," said Gilpatrick's son Virgil. "You never expect something like this would happen all in one day. It really hurts."
"I can't go forward, the past is not settled. So I won't go forward until I know the past," said Rita.
And Gilpatrick's family says someone has the answers they so desperately need.
"Get it off your chest because as much as it is hurting me not knowing, it has got to be killing them, the knowing that they did it," Rita said. "I'm not wanting revenge, I'm just wanting answers.
"It would mean everything to me. At least I can go to the grave yard and tell him now, this person has cleared their conscious. They have done the right thing now."
The Warrick County Sheriff's office believes the person responsible for this shooting is aware of it and may have told someone.