ONEONTA – Jennifer Kirkpatrick was “relieved” when she heard the news that David Dart, the man who murdered her 18 year old sister, Gillian Gibbons 30 years ago, was denied parole.
“I’m thankful that we have more time,” she said. “The longer we can keep him in prison, the better off they are.”
In 1991, Dart, then 29, was sentenced to 25 years to live for second-degree murder after he was found guilty of stabbing Gillian to death on Sept. 12, 1989.
At a “Justice for Gillian” rally in September, Kirkpatrick rallied friends, community members and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, to write letters to the parole board urging them to deny him parole.
In a press release, Seward said he and Jill’s family “prayed for this outcome. A cold-blooded killer, who has shown no remorse, needs to stay in prison, and I am pleased that the parole board agreed.”
In addition to letters sent, the Otsego County Board of Representatives added a resolution asking the parole board to deny his release as part of their resolution to support S4354, introduced several times by state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, to increase the time between parole hearing for “violent crimes” from two to five years.
“Without the community support, he’d be out,” she said. “Those letters are what’s keeping him in prison. The community is saying ‘we don’t want him here, he is dangerous.’”
However, she said, he will be up for parole again in May 2012, just 18 months from now.
“It stinks that it’s only 18 months,” she lamented. “But we’ll start writing letters again in March 2021.”
ONEONTA – Gillian Gibbons’ voice was silenced when David Dart stabbed her 42 times in the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1984.
But Jennifer Miller Dutcher intends to use hers to keep Dart in prison. “I am a survivor of David Dart,” she said. “I am a victim who has a voice, and I have to share my story.”
She told her story at the “Justice for Gillian” rally Saturday, Sept. 28 in Muller Plaza, standing at the podium besides Gillian’s sister, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, to encourage everyone to write to the state Parole Board and ask them to deny Dart’s parole this November.
“If he gets out, he will rape, he will kill again,” said Kirkpatrick, who organized the rally with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.
“Help us keep him behind bars,” said Miller Dutcher. “Please help us be that voice for Gillian.”
One evening in 1984, Dart came to Miller Dutcher’s parents’ house in Portlandville and asked if he could talk to her. “He was kind of a loner,” she said. “His grandparents asked us to include him.”
She went outside with him, but he dragged her into the alley between two houses and began to assault her. “He had a knife to my throat,” she said. “He threatened to kill me, and I begged for my life.”
She managed to escape and get back home, where her parents called the police. Dart was sentenced to juvenile detention. “I was able to get away with my life, but he took emotional, physical and spiritual things away from me.”
Though her parents asked that he get counseling as part of his sentence, they later learned that he denied all of it. And because his record was sealed, during his trial for Gillian’s murder, the jury was not able to see his prior violent conviction.
“He’s been terrorizing people since he was an adolescent,” said Kirkpatrick.
“I wasn’t his only victim,” she said. “He attacked other girls, but their parents wouldn’t let them speak out. And he didn’t get the counseling that could have turned the tide. Maybe if he had, if we had known, Gillian would still be with us today.”
Retired Oneonta Police Chief Joseph Redmond, a sergeant at the time, read a letter from former Deputy Sheriff Sean Ralph, who was the first on the scene of Gillian’s murder.
“To this day I remember opening that car door and seeing one of the most horrific crime scenes in my law enforcement career,” the letter read. “I would ask that you trust my assessment that David Dart is a savage and brutal killer that perpetrated such violence and rage that he should never be trusted to prey on an innocent victim again.”
“It was people like you who were instrumental in solving Gillian’s murder,” said Redmond. “Now, I urge all of you to get your family, your friends involved in making sure he never walks among free society again.”
Seward handed out flyers with the information on how to write to the parole board, as well as how to support his bill to extend the time between parole hearings from two years to five.
“David Dart is right where he belongs,” said Seward. “Locked up behind bars. Why should he and other violent criminals have a right to a parole hearing every two years?”
Kirkpatrick and her family will tell Gillian’s story before a member of the parole board on Friday, Oct. 4. Letters to the board are due by the end of October in order to be read ahead of Dart’s November hearing.
“If he gets out, he will do this again,” said Kirkpatrick. “It could be your daughter, your sister, anybody.”
Jennifer Kirkpatrick, sister of Gillian Gibbons, asked 50 supporters gathered at the “Justice For Gillian” rally in Muller Plaza this afternoon to send letters asking the state Parole Board to deny convicted murderer David Dart parole in the stabbing death of Gibbons, 18, in Oneonta’s Municipal Parking Garage 30 years ago. “If he gets out, he will rape, he will kill again,” Kirkpatrick warned. With her is state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who helped put the rally together and has sponsored a bill to increase the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders like Dart. At right, Jennifer Miller Dutcher tells her story – that when they were teens, Dart, who lived with his grandparents across the street from her in Portlandville, held her at knifepoint and assaulted her. “We were able to get him sent away for a little while. But when Gillian’s life was taken, I was devastated. I didn’t think I did enough,” she said. Then shifting to address Bart, she said: “I am a victim who has a voice, and I am using that voice to ask you to keep him behind bars.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – When David Dart was sentenced for the murder of Gillian Gibbons, her sister Jennifer Kirkpatrick remembered a chilling message he gave her in the courtroom.
“He looked right at me and said, ‘I’ll be back,’” she recounted.
Now, 30 years after Gillian’s death, Jennifer is mounting a campaign to keep her convicted killer in prison. “My goal is to let the community know that he is only in his 40s,” she said. “He will offend again. It’s scary.
Working with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, Jennifer has planned a Justice For Gillian rally at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in Muller Plaza.
“It’s important for us to do something to highlight his parole hearing,” said Seward. “We want to provide information to people so they can contact the parole board to protest Dart’s release.”
In 1991, Dart, then 29, was sentenced to 25 years to live for second-degree murder after he was found guilty of stabbing Gillian to death with a “Rambo-style survival knife” – as described in the court transcript – on the second floor of the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1989.
Dart will once again face the parole board on Monday, Nov. 4.
“Normally his parole is every two years,” said Jennifer. “But this time, it was only 19 months. I was furious, and I told myself, if I have to be a one-woman show, walking up and down Main Street protesting his release, I will.”
“It goes to my heart that Jennifer and her family have to go through this every time,” said Seward. “I’ve got a bill that would expand the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders. Families should not have to tell their devastating stories so frequently, and there’s always the chance the parole board will release him.”
As the anniversary of Gillian’s death drew near, Seward invited Kirkpatrick to his office, where they put together plans for the Justice for Gillian rally.
“I was so humbled,” she said. “He called me down and he said, ‘We can go to the city and get a permit, we can make this happen’.”
“I remember Gillian as a vivacious, smiling young woman,” said Seward. “It hit our community very hard, and it is an affront to her memory to let Dart see the light of day.”
At the rally, Seward will have sample letters and the address people can use to write to the parole board, as well as instructions for how to send a letter online. Letters should be submitted no later than Friday, Oct. 25.
“It’s a waste of taxpayer money to have them go before the parole board every two years,” she said.
There will also be speakers, and Jennifer has invited the police officers involved in Gillian’s case, as well as families affected by violent crime to share their stories.
But more than just an information session, Jennifer wants to continue to celebrate her sister’s life 30 years after her passing.
“I’m bringing photos and having them blown up into posters so people can carry them,” she said. “And I’ve asked all her friends to speak. But I told them that if it’s depressing, Gillian will be rolling her eyes. I want memories and funny stories.”