On June 26, 1984, the Fort Myers Police Department responded to a call of shots being fired in the area of Palm Ave and Lincoln Blvd. Upon arrival, officers located Claretha Gibbs, who was suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Gibbs was transported via ambulance to Community Hospital where she died from her injury.
Witnesses stated that Gibbs was last seen entering a two-tone vehicle, possibly a pick-up truck, just before hearing a gunshot. The driver of the two-tone vehicle was described as a white male in his 30’s with brown or dark blonde hair, a thin build, approximately 5’10” with a pale complexion.
During the investigation, a rag with the suspect’s DNA was recovered. DNA testing was not common or very advanced in 1984.
Then, in January 2017, investigators with the Fort Myers Police Department’s Cold Case Unit submitted the DNA evidence to DNA Labs International. A full DNA profile of the suspect was obtained and entered into CODIS, the FBI’s national DNA database. CODIS did not provide a hit to any known samples in the database.
In March 2019, investigators submitted the DNA sample to Parabon Snapshot for development of a profile using genealogy research.
On July 22, 2020, Parabon Snapshot completed a report on the genealogy. The report indicated that the DNA profile was identified through genealogy databases to an individual identified as James Glen Drinnon of Okeechobee, Florida. Investigators began to research Drinnon and his association to Fort Myers and found that he resided in Lee County in 1984.
On July 27, 2020, Investigators obtained a surreptitious DNA sample from Drinnon from discarded trash. The sample was sent to DNA Labs International and matched the DNA collected from the scene on the night Gibbs was killed.
On Jan. 13, 2021, investigators traveled to Okeechobee and made contact with Drinnon. Drinnon provided a post-Miranda statement wherein he admitted to shooting and killing Gibbs. Drinnon stated Gibbs was a prostitute and he picked her up to engage in sexual intercourse. He claimed that Gibbs pulled a gun on him to rob him, they fought over the gun and Gibbs was shot. Drinnon fled the scene and discarded the gun out the window of his vehicle as he fled.
On January 18, 2021, Drinnon died in his home in Okeechobee, FL.
The 1984 murder of Gibbs will be closed due to Drinnon’s confession then subsequent death 5 days later.
This case is an excellent example of good old-fashioned police work combined with the advancements that technology can provide law enforcement. The Fort Myers Police Department and Chief Derrick Diggs are committed to using any resource or technology available to solve our unsolved murder cases and bring justice for their families.
Republished courtesy of Fort Meyers Police Department. Mugshot credit: FMP