The case of

Karen Gregory

Victim

Karen Gregory

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1948-03-29

Victim Age

36

Date Reported

1984-03-23

Date of Death

1984-05-23

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Gulfport, Florida, USA

Body Location

Gulfport, Florida, USA

Date of Conviction

1986

Body Discovered Date

1984-03-23

Murderer

George Lewis 

Who Was Karen Gregory?

Karen Gregory was born on March 29, 1948, in Albany, New York. Growing up, Karen had a passion for creativity and attended Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. At Nazareth College, Karen earned two bachelor’s degrees, one for art and one for science.

In 1982, Karen Gregory abandoned her Yankee routes and moved south to Gulfport, Florida. The town of Gulfport borders St. Petersburg, South Pasadena, and Boca Ciega Bay. During the 1950’s Gulfport was considered a “sundown town.” Any neighborhood labeled a sundown town meant townspeople informally prohibited African Americans from staying after sunset.

Shortly after moving to Gulfport, Karen Gregory met a therapist named David Mackey. The two quickly fell for each other, and within a year, Karen had moved into David’s house. When Karen initially moved to Gulfport, she took on a job serving to support herself. But now, after two years of living in Florida, Karen was finally going to put her degree to use as a local graphic design company recently hired her.

May 1984 was a busy time for Karen Gregory. She had only recently started her dream job and now had to move her stuff into David’s house. While Karen moved her things into David’s house, David had to go out of town for work. There wasn’t much left for Karen to do, and she could easily move the rest of the boxes in by herself. That way, the couple would be ready to start their new adventure together when David came home.

On May 22, David left for his business trip, thinking he would see Karen again when he returned in a few days. David couldn’t be more wrong because someone would sexually assault and brutally murder Karen the following night. The happy couple had only been together for one year.

Discovery of Karen Gregory’s Body

David tried calling Karen on May 23, but no one answered. Concerned, David tried calling Karen several more times, but still, she didn’t answer. The following day David called Karen’s job and reported that Karen hadn’t shown up for work that day or the day before. By now, in a full-blown panic, David had recruited a friend to check on Karen for him.

As the friend approached the house in the quiet town of Gulfport, he noticed broken glass scattered on the ground. The friend peered through the broken glass and saw Karen’s body lying inside the house, covered in blood. David, still on the line at the friend’s house, was confused when they returned from checking on Karen and said they needed to call 911.

After waiting for a few minutes, David dialed the phone number of his house again. Finally, someone answered. To David’s dismay, it wasn’t Karen who answered but a police officer. David told the cop who he was and asked if Karen was okay. Unfortunately, she wasn’t; the officer had to tell David. His girlfriend was dead.

When investigators arrived on the scene, they entered the home through a broken window in Karen’s bedroom. A trial of blood led from the bed to the floor and out the open the door to Karen’s body. Blood covered Karen and the hallway where she lay.

Dressed in only a sleeveless t-shirt, Karen had a piece of black lingerie bunched around her waist and pulled over her shirt. A bloody hand print had dried on Karen’s thigh. Dried blood covered Karen’s face and matted her hair. Since the blood had dried, police determined Karen’s body had been lying in the hallway for at least a day.

Investigation into Karen Gregory’s Murder

After a medical examiner autopsied Karen’s body, he would later state her killer had stabbed her twenty-one times in the neck and head. The medical examiner determined Karen fought for her life due to the extensive defensive wounds on her hands. Because of the excessive blood splatter in the hallway, the examiner would say Karen’s murderer had bludgeoned her with a blunt instrument. A rape kit determined whoever murdered Karen had also sexually assaulted her. The DNA found during the autopsy proved to be unusable, and it wouldn’t have helped anyway because of the time.

Investigators thoroughly examined the crime scene and were able to create a timeline of the events they believed occurred that night. Whoever assaulted Karen came in through her bedroom window and began to rape her. During the rape, Karen ran, nearly making it to the enclosed front porch before her attacker dragged her back in. While pulling Karen back into the home, a glass window shattered. They think once her killer got Karen back inside the house; he completed his assault on her in the hallway before brutally stabbing her and bashing her in the head.

The blood handprint found on Karen’s body would also be deemed unusable. Because Karen’s body had sat for so long in the Florida humidity, the dried blood damaged the ridges in the fingerprint. Much of the evidence, although there was an abundance of it, couldn’t be used by detectives due to Karen’s decomposing body.

When David returned from his business trip, the investigators asked him to inventory the house to see if the killer had taken any with him. Everything seemed to be in place, except one of Karen’s white intimate undergarments was missing. Two months before Karen’s murder, David had bought the underwear for her as a present for her birthday. It was the only item missing from the house.

Detectives searched the outside of Karen and David’s house and looked in Karen’s vehicle. On Karen’s car, detectives found a note which read, “Stopped by. No signs of life. Peter.” Immediately police officer wanted to question whoever Peter was. They soon found out that Peter from the note was Peter Kumble.

Peter, a friend of Karen’s, stopped by the house and knocked on the door. When there was no answer, he walked to his car, wrote the note, and placed it on her windshield. Admittedly Peter used the wrong choice of words but denied having anything to do with Karen’s murder.

George Lewis

When questioned by detectives, neighbors said around 1:41 AM on May 2, a screaming noise awakened them. The neighbors said they assumed the noise had come from an animal since the screaming stopped almost as soon as it began. Shrugging the incident off, they went back to sleep.

George Lewis, a twenty-two-year-old neighbor of David and Karen, was awake the night of the murder. Out of all the neighbors awake the night of Karen’s murder, the police sure were happy it was George. A firefighter and captain of the neighborhood watch, George made the perfect eyewitness and was helpful too.

After the investigators asked George if he had seen Peter Kumble the night of May 23, George said that he believed he had. The day after the murder, he saw Peter walk to Karen’s door, walk to his car and then leave a note on Karen’s car. Since George was awake and working in his garage at the time, neighbors reported hearing a scream; they asked George if he had heard anything.

Ever the helpful witness, George did hear a scream, although a faint one, while working on his car while he had the radio playing. Slightly concerned, George walked into the street but didn’t see anything amiss, so he returned to the garage. George had never gotten the chance to meet his new neighbor Karen before someone killed her.

Continued Investigation David as a Suspect

Investigators eventually cleared Peter Kumble. The next possible suspect, the police officer, checked it was Karen’s boyfriend, David. David was in Rhode Island and had a solid alibi for the night someone broke into his home and killed Karen. Still, the police didn’t feel comfortable clearing David yet. They looked into if David could fly to Florida from Rhode Island and back in time to commit the crime.

Police only found Karen’s body after David called a friend, asking them to check on her. Interestingly Rhode Island newspapers were at the crime scene too. David was also eager to solve Karen’s murder and kept inserting himself into the investigation, which angered the police and made them more suspicious of him.

Eventually, a detective determined it would not have been possible for David to pull off murdering Karen, fly back to Boston, drive to Rhode Island, and give a conference the following day. David never moved back into the home he was supposed to share with Karen and ended up selling it. With David cleared as a suspect and Peter Kumble, the investigation was at a standstill.

The arrest of George Lewis

In 1986, two years after Karen Gregory’s death, investigators received new information about the murder. A witness overheard one of Karen’s neighbors gossiping about the murder. She said the scream heard on the street that night was long, loud, and piercing, and she lived blocks away. That statement was in direct controversy with the information George gave them. George, who lived directly across the street from the house where Karen was murdered and was outside, said the scream he heard was soft and faint.

Confused, detectives called George back in. There must be some confusion, and they would question George to clarify everything. Although now that investigators thought about it, it was rather weird that George, head of the neighborhood watch and respected fireman, never called 911 after hearing a scream come from his block.

George willingly submitted for a polygraph test and failed. After denying knowing why he failed the test, George admitted he had more information to tell the police concerning Karen. Now George claimed that a red-headed man left Karen’s house after the scream and threatened George. Police reconstructed the crime scene to see how far George could see in the dark and if he would have been able to see the suspect clear enough to identify him.

The investigators dug into George’s past and revealed that he had shown a sexual interest in Karen Gregory before she moved into David’s house. Despite telling authorities that he didn’t know who Karen was when she moved in, he had told a friend it would be nice to have an orgy with her. Becoming more suspicious of George, detectives took George’s fingerprints, footprints, and shoe prints.

The FBI analyzed a footprint found at the crime scene and determined it belonged to George. Detectives called George down to the station one final time for questioning. This time George said after he heard a scream come from Karen’s house, he walked to her window and saw her bloody body lying in the hallway. When the detectives told George his footprint had been identified at the crime scene, he told another story.

In this version of the story, George entered David Mackey’s home through the bedroom window, walked into the house, and saw Karen, then left. Armed with the footprint evidence and George’s ever-changing alibi, the investigators arrested him in 1986.

Trial of George Lewis

Later during George’s trial, he found out where the police found his footprint and changed his story again. He said after discovering Karen Gregory’s body, he ran into her bathroom and vomited. Investigators testified when Karen’s body was found, the toilet bowl was clean, and the seat was up, contrary to what George said.

Tonya Dishone, a former neighbor of Karen and George, testified at George’s trial for the prosecution. According to Tonya, in 1984, when someone sexually assaulted and murdered Karen, Tonya was seventeen. She was involved in a sexual relationship with George, who was twenty-two and married at the time. For Tonya’s birthday in the summer of 1984, George had given her a white lingerie outfit, identical to the one taken from Karen’s crime scene.

George Lewis testified in his defense. Another witness who testified in George’s defense was the paramedic who trained him. The paramedic testified it is typical for emergency workers to panic in a situation and not call 911, so it was feasible that George found Karen Gregory’s body, got sick, and left.

When asked by the prosecution if it was customary for emergency service workers not to report an emergency, the paramedic said no, that was not normal. Jurors found George Lewis guilty of the first-degree murder and sexual assault of Karen Gregory and sentenced him to life in prison. In 2014 George Lewis died in jail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to George Lewis?

George Lewis was a man from Gulfport, Florida sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his neighbor Karen Gregory. In 2014 George Lewis died in prison. He was fifty two years old.

What happened to Holly Staker?

Eleven year old Holly Staker was raped and murdered while babysitting in 1992.

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