Doctor sentenced to 50 years in death of woman whose body was never found

Doctor sentenced to 50 years in death of woman whose body was never found
John Gibbs (Source: Chesterfield Jail)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A doctor who was found guilty last year in the death of a Chesterfield woman whose body has not been found was sentenced to 50 years on Monday.

John E. Gibbs II was found guilty in December of killing Zulma Pabon after a jury deliberated for two days after a trial.

Police classified Pabon's disappearance from nearly four years ago as a no-body homicide.

"There wasn't any evidence found on the premises, there wasn't any evidence of violence, there wasn't any DNA, nothing that pointed the finger at Dr. Gibbs," said defense attorney Debra Corcoran. "He did have a close, loving relationship with her, even up to the end."

Police had said Gibbs was seen on surveillance photos walking to a home that he and Zulma shared, just minutes after her car was seen leaving. That car was later found abandoned at a mobile home park.

For almost an hour, the defense and prosecution went back and forth regarding Gibbs fate. The prosecution saying there is more than enough evidence to point to Gibbs, who they say has remained without remorse, did not report Pabon missing in 2014, and they say he never attempted to look for her.

Gibbs' younger sister spoke in court, saying her brother is innocent, describing him as a loving father and family member who "everyone depended on." Gibbs defense attorneys urged the judge to set aside the verdict, but the judge denied their request, upholding the jury's recommended 50-year sentence.

Gibbs did speak in the courtroom, saying he should have done more to help Pabon, who he says had been suffering with her mental health. Gibbs said he had promised Pabon's family he would take care of her and feels that he did not properly care for her before she disappeared in 2014.

"We know that Dr. Gibbs is going to be appealing this case, and someway, somewhere, somehow, he's going to be vindicated in this matter," said Corcoran.

Earlier in 2017, Gibbs was sentenced to prison for child neglect.

In that case, reports say Gibbs and Pabon's child began acting out in daycare. The child would repeatedly swear, kick, scream, and misbehave.

One written report stated he told the teacher he was going to "get my father's gun and kill you," then turned to classmates saying, "I'll kill you, too."

After a child neglect investigation was launched, the child, who was four at the time, was discovered wandering alone near a Costco. Police discovered there was another incident before that, where the boy was found at the pool. That incident went unreported.

In both cases, detectives believe the timing lined up with appointments Gibbs had with the child's teachers, leading those detectives to believe he left the child unsupervised.

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