Court records indicate York suspect called 911 to report homicide | Nebraska
Tina McMenamin, an 18-year-old UNL freshman, was stabbed and sexually assaulted at her home on July 25, 1995.
Gregory Gabel, a mentally ill Lincoln man, was arrested in the murder and has always been the prime suspect, an investigator said, even after crucial DNA evidence failed to link him to the crime scene. Gabel has a computer-like memory for facts and figures and a history of stalking women around businesses and public events, retired investigator Rich Doetker said in 2005.
McMenamin was killed in 1995 in the minutes before she was due to arrive for work at Godfather’s Pizza at 5:30 p.m. Roommate Sarah Bognich found her friend in a pool of blood that night.
“The apartment was ransacked. I walked past the bedroom a couple of times before I saw her lying on the floor. My life changed after that.
A single hair on McMenamin’s hand led police to Gabel. It matched his DNA, a one in 1,049 chance. Circumstantial evidence also linked Gabel to the home. And a man matching Gabel’s description was seen fleeing the scene, Amberwood Apartments, 4600 Briarpark Drive.
That night, Gabel was a block away at a sonic drive-in. He was there every Tuesday night cleaning up around food. And Gabel had previous convictions for third-degree sexual assault and public indecency. The police arrested him a year after the crime.
But two years later, when another DNA test proved the hair wasn’t from Gabel, he was released. However, those hairs didn’t necessarily belong to the killer, Doetker said. The investigator also has doubts about the validity of the second DNA test, which was performed at a Pennsylvania lab.
“Questions came up: Was it the right hair? The same hair?” he said.
The murder charges against Gabel were dropped in the hope that additional evidence would be found to arrest him again, Doetker said. If the case went to trial and Gabel was found innocent, Doetker added he could not be tried again if new evidence came to light.
Mary Hepburn-O’Shea, who has worked in the mental health field in Lincoln for decades and who has known Gabel for many years, said in 2005 that the man lost two years in prison for something he didn’t do.
In downtown Hepburn-O’Shea operates OUR Homes, the city’s largest provider for people with intellectual disabilities, which also houses people with mental illnesses. Fork lives and works there. “He’s a weird kid,” she said. “He’s never a violent kid.”
Then-Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Peschong added in 2005 that you cannot try a case based on personal beliefs and suspicions. Peschong said he personally believes there is a suspect in the crime but declined to name anyone.