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A well-liked repairman is found beaten and shot to death.

Permon Gilbert

He found Permon’s nude body by the road

CASE DETAILS

Was Permon involved with a local woman?

On May 23, 1982, in the small town of Hamersville, Ohio, a 15-year-old boy made a terrible discovery. A man’s body, nude and beaten, was dumped on the side of the road.  That night, the man would be identified as Permon Gilbert, an appliance repairman who lived just seven miles from the place his body was found.  The most puzzling thing about Permon Gilbert’s murder was that he appeared, to those who knew him, to lead such a normal, non-controversial life.  But in this small, Ohio town, it was not long before phrases like organized crime, drug trafficking, and jealous husband, began to be heard.

Permon Gilbert was a beloved husband and father of four.  His passion was flying his small plane, but he made his living fixing household appliances.  During the week, Permon worked for a large company.  But on Saturdays, he worked for himself and scheduled his own house calls. According to his wife Joanne, the Saturday of his murder, Permon was hesitant about leaving for work:

“When he left that Saturday morning, it was probably 8:30.  And he said he didn’t want to go.  And now it bothers me.  That’s what I remember about him leaving that morning.”

Permon refused offers to move drugs

Permon’s service calls that Saturday morning took him to Mt. Orab, Georgetown, and Aberdeen—all small towns within a few miles of his home.  When his work was complete, Permon crossed the Simon Kenton Bridge into Maysville, Kentucky.  He stopped at a market where a woman named Ann Breeze worked as a cashier.  Ann recalled Permon’s visit that Saturday:

“He was always very neat.  Greeted you, you know, very friendly every time you saw him.  I never saw the man down or act like he had a care in the world.”

When Permon left the market, he walked into the flower shop next door.  But no one can account for Permon Gilbert’s movements after that.  He had told his wife, Joanne, that he would be back home around three that afternoon, but never arrived:

His wallet and belt buckle were missing

“Then it got to be dark and he wasn’t here.  And it got to be midnight and I was scared and I was afraid to go out.  I had a small child and I was afraid to put her in the car and go out looking.  And then I think about 3:00  in the morning, I called one of our friends and you know, have you seen Permon, do you know where he’s at, anything like that and they didn’t.”

Joanne Gilbert called the police.  They were unable to turn any leads, until late the next afternoon, when her husband’s body was found.  Permon had been shot twice in the chest.  Because no cloth fibers were found in the two bullet wounds, police believe that Permon had been naked above the waist at the time he was shot. Although Permon’s clothes were never found, his van was located the next day.  According to Sheriff John Van Camp of the Clermont County Sheriff’s Department, the van was located 22 miles away from the spot where his body had been discovered:

“Permon Gilbert’s watch was still hanging on the gearshift lever.  His toolbox was in there, parts and supplies were in place in the van.  We did an inspection of the van and recovered  fingerprints and hair samples.  At this time, we’ve not been able to match the fingerprints and hair samples to anyone.”

The investigation into Permon’s murder presented three possible scenarios.  The first involved drugs.  Permon often flew his small plane from a rough landing strip on his farm.  According to Joanne Gilbert, Permon claimed he had been approached to transport drugs:

“And all he had to do was take the airplane and fly it to a certain airport, go in and have a cup of coffee, come back out and there’d be money laying on the seat or under the seat.  And it would’ve been easy money but it’s against the law and it was against everything we believed in.”

The second theory involved Permon’s brother, Vernon.  Vernon was twelve years younger than Permon and they were devoted to one another.  Three months before Permon was killed, Vernon Gilbert had agreed to appear before a grand jury.  Vernon planned to testify in a case against organized crime. Permon waited in town while his brother testified.  Joanne believed her husband may have been the target of a hired killer:

“Maybe my husband knew too much.  Maybe Permon was killed to lure his brother back to a funeral and because they were after him really.  But then his brother didn’t come to the funeral.”

According to Sheriff Van Camp, Permon Gilbert may also have been involved in a crime of passion:

“The very nature of Permon Gilbert’s home appliance repair business, placed in many households alone with a family member.  What we need now is for someone to come forward and help us trace Permon Gilbert from that flower shop.  Anyone that has seen him around the flower shop or in the parking lot with his cream and brown van at that time or later in the day, we’d like to hear from.”

A reward of $20,000 is being offered in this case.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and coming soon with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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11 Comments

  1. nm

    most likely this was mafia related. seeing as the young brother was testifying AGAINST an organized crime syndicate, they likely ‘hit’ permon to send a message. keep in mind that this seems much more plausible considering it was in the early 80’s.

    Reply

  2. Sharon

    Has the investigating Office continued to run the evidence of fingerprint​s and DNA from hair sample (if possible) to today’s technology? This would be an excellent case for a cold case unit to review!

    Reply

  3. Angie

    I believe that he was beaten and killed by the husband of someone he was having an affair with. Seems like I have seen this case on another show and it was mentioned that the flower shop employee (that he asked for on the UM episode) was Investigated. Anyone else recall this?

    Reply

  4. chanita

    yuck that makes me sick to my stomach! I will pray for him and his family!

    Reply

  5. Permon Gilbert Gravesite

    I was wondering does anybody know where Mr Gilbert was laid to rest? I have had a look online but not been able to find anywhere. If anyone knows I’d be very appreciative!

    Reply

  6. Patricia Golightly

    What was he doing in the flower shop? Was he buying flowers for someone? Seems that if he bought flowers for someone, which I can’t believe they didn’t give that information on the Tv show “unsolved”, and the fact that he was found naked from the waist up, he was probably caught red handed having an affair with one of his customers. The husband walked in as Permanent jumped up, put his pants on, but before he could get out of the house was confronted by a boyfriend or husband, shot twice in the chest, and then dumped. It was probably within miles of his home because his affair was within the area.

    Reply

  7. Anonymous

    Growing up in Brown County…I’ve heard adults talking…and from talk it’s believed that the McKinneys had something to do with it…talk was that they got their salvage/repair shop started by running cocaine in the area and that they propositioned Mr Gilbert to get him to transport in his plane…he declined?…and in the way he way he was found…probably to send a message to anyone he may have confided in…?????

    Reply

  8. lm knull

    His younger brother was into crime although permon was not maybe his younger brothers crimes came back on him instead.

    Reply

  9. Tendy Uebel

    Where is? Vernon Gilbert now? And what came from his testimony? I knew the family.

    Reply