James Glen Drinnon has been identified as the lead suspect in the June 26, 1984 murder of 31-year-old Claretha ‘Coco’ Gibbs in Fort Myers, Florida. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Drinnon.
Gibbs had been shot in the abdomen, and she died a short time later in the hospital. Gibbs was a sex-worker who was seen getting into a vehicle with a male near Palm Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard just before she was shot and dumped in the street. Despite witness descriptions of the vehicle and the suspect, the case went cold. Gibbs was one of 16 sex workers killed in Fort Myers whose murders remained unsolved.
In 2017, DNA Labs International produced a DNA profile of the suspect from a rag found at the crime scene. There were no hits to CODIS. The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs. The initial confirmation was made through police surveillance followed by the surreptitious sampling of items discarded by Drinnon in his trash.
Police interviewed Drinnon, then in very ill health, at his home on January 13, 2021. He confessed to having committed the crime after being provided with a Miranda warning. He stated that Gibbs had tried to rob him at gunpoint, and she was killed accidentally when they fought over the gun. Drinnon passed away on January 18, 2021 at the age of 65, and the case was cleared by exception.
Braun, Michael. “1984 Murder of Claretha ‘Coco’ Gibbs Solved: Fort Myers Police Link DNA on Rag to Suspect.” Fort Myers News-Press, January 20, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://www.news-press.com/story/news/crime/2021/01/20/1984-case-about-woman-fatal-shooting-solved/4228658001/.
Fort Myers Police Department. “Parabon, Fort Myers Police Solve 1984 Cold Case Homicide.” Forensic Magazine, January 22, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://www.forensicmag.com/572448-Parabon-Fort-Myers-Police-Solve-1984-Cold-Case-Homicide/.
Glenn, Sarah. “Fort Myers Police Solve 1984 Murder Case.” NBC 2 News, January 20, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://nbc-2.com/news/2021/01/20/fort-myers-police-solve-murder-case-from-1984/.