1981 double murder resurfaces as mans parole hearing resurfaces

1981 double murder resurfaces as mans parole hearing resurfaces

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Thomas Gilbert has spent 40 years in prison.

“Should he ever get out again, I’m pretty sure he would kill again; I think he liked it,” said Beth Helms.

In the summer of 1981, police say Thomas Gilbert raped and killed two women in Summit County.

One of them being Joan Schafer, Tammie Sullivan, and Beth Helms’ best friend.

They were 14 years old when police rang Tammie’s door.

“Asking a lot of questions about what I and her had been doing, where we’d gone did we see anybody,” said Sullivan.

Joan Schafer was walking down Samira Street in Stow when she was taken by Gilbert, stabbed, and raped.

Police found Joan’s body behind a middle school in Tallmadge.

“They had a piece of fabric similar to her skin color up over her neck to hide the fact that he had cut her throat,” said Helms.

“If he gets out, he’ll kill again. He’s a serial murder, and he likes it,” said Sullivan.

Just one day before Joan’s death, Gilbert killed 19-year-old Sandy Jo.

Gilbert drunkenly entered an old convenience store and took Sandy.

She was found behind a bowling alley, stabbed 26 times, raped, and left for dead.

40 years later, these friends are still shaken by the events, and their asking for as many people to write the parole board to keep Gilbert behind bars.

“You would not want your child to live through that, to live with the fact that a monster came out of nowhere and took their best friend,” said Sullivan “you can’t reconcile that, you can’t make that better for them, ever. They have to learn how to deal with that on their own”.

Gilbert was sent to prison for a minimum of 55 years.

He was convicted on two counts of aggravated murder, three counts of rape, and one count each of escape and kidnapping.

He could stay in prison for the rest of his life, but that’s up to the parole board in February.

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