A cold-case homicide has been solved after a man, apparently racked with guilt, drove across the country to confess killing an Arizona woman with a flashlight more than 15 years ago. Matthew Gibson has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after driving from North Carolina to Arizona to turn himself in to face charges that a prosecutor said wouldn't have come without the 55-year-old's surrender. "His name was never in any report. We didn't even know he existed," Mohave County assistant prosecutor Jace Zack says. "I am 100% certain that he would not have been caught if he didn't turn himself in." The 1997 death of Barbara Leone Brown in the western Arizona town of Bullhead City has agonized Gibson, who has found religion, says his attorney, Ron Gilleo: "He just wanted it off his chest."
Gibson provided a written statement to authorities last month. "Only the good Lord knows what that night was all about, but I'm deeply sorry for that night," he wrote. "For years now, I have weeped [sic] over this and it has been heavy on my soul." The feeling propelled Gibson to drive about 1,800 miles this summer from Vilas, NC, to Winslow, Ariz., where he surrendered to police in June. Brown's body was found in thick bushes along the river with multiple skull fractures; her husband had reported her missing several days earlier. Gibson provided information that fit Brown's death, according to Bullhead City police. Authorities said he told them he and the 38-year-old woman had argued and that he hit her with a flashlight and dumped her body after she died from the injury. The two weren't romantically involved, Zack says.