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A well-liked repairman is found beaten and shot to death.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
According to Sheriff Van Camp, Permon Gilbert may also have been involved in a crime of passion:
A reward of $20,000 is being offered in this case.