LAKE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – A Kentucky man has been charged with rape and murder in a 1994 cold case, the FBI said Tuesday in a release.
The FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team (GRIT) has been working with Indiana State Police since 2020 to solve the case of 69-year-old Gloria Hansell, who investigators said was found strangled inside her Gary home on June 17, 1994.
Hansell was a widow who lived alone and relied on an in-home oxygen machine due to poor health, the release said.
During re-investigation of the case, GRIT investigators found that 60-year-old Gerald Lynn Smith knew Hansell, and he was in Gary shortly before her murder, the FBI said in the release.
Back when Smith was 32 years old, he moved back into the Gary area from out of state, a witness reported to investigators. The witness said Smith had gone to Hansell’s house at least twice in the weeks before her murder.
The witness said that, one day, Smith asked Hansell if he could cut her grass for money, but she declined his offer. Another time, Hansell said Smith was at her home and made an unwanted advance that made her uncomfortable when he tried to kiss her neck, the witness said.
Smith, who police said is from Madisonville, Kentucky, became a suspect in 2020, connected to a male’s DNA found in Hansell’s sexual assault kit collected at her autopsy.
The Lake County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Smith with murder, murder while committing or attempting to commit rape, and rape, in connection with the case described by the FBI as a brutal slaying.
The Hopkins County Jail in Kentucky listed Smith had been arrested Sept. 30. Extradition proceedings are underway, according to the public case file.
Other agencies involved in the investigation include the Gary Police Dept., Lake County Police Dept. Crime Scene Unit, and Hopkins County, Kentucky Sheriff’s Dept.
The FBI said in the release GRIT investigators are still asking anyone with information on this case or any other cold case to call 219-942-4899.