Skip to main content

The Delaware Christmas Murders Of 1987

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

A Heinous Crime On A Rural Road The Night Before Christmas Eve


Double Murder And Kidnapping Stuns Rural Delaware

It was 1987 in a rural community near Hazlettville Delaware. Crime was not prevalent and what unfolded that Christmas Eve morning was one of the most bizarre and grisly episodes to befall this county in many decades.

Christmas Eve Morning 1987

Five year old Rebecca Gibson, woke up Christmas Eve morning and found her father face down in the kitchen in the mobile home her parents made their home. She found him lying in a puddle of blood and could not wake him. She could not find her mother anywhere, so she tried to call her Grandmother, who lived in the farmhouse on the farm her parents trailer resided on.

She reached a wrong number, but her story of what was happening in her home, alerted the recipient of the call to immediately call the police. There were no cell phones at the time, so the neighbor went to a neighbor of hers to call 911, while someone kept Rebecca on the line. The State Police then responded to a scene they would never forget.

What The Delaware State Police Found

When the Delaware State Police arrived on the scene, they found Joseph Gibson Jr. 32, face down in the kitchen, a gun shot to his side and one to his head. Beverly Gibson, 27, clad in a night gown and slumped over in the car outside with one gun shot to the back and another to the buttocks.

The babies nightgown was later found with his abductor, with his mothers blood on his night gown.

Rebecca 5 years old and John 1 year old, were found unhurt, but 9 day old Matthew Gibson was no where to be found. He had vanished.

How or why little Rebecca had not woke up, and left her bedroom to investigate was perhaps a mystery in itself, left for the angels who protect innocent children. However, when little Rebecca woke the morning before Christmas, she found what no five year old should ever have to see.

The Leads Police Followed

The leads were very slim, as the police looked at the scene of horror. A $2,000 reward was offered, which did not seem to produce any results.

However, the Delaware State Police did have just a few leads which they wasted no time following up on. A neighbor across the street, heard what they thought was gunshots the night before, and rushed to the window to see what it was. They saw a high performance car barreling down the driveway of the young Gibson's trailer. However, they did not report it.

Also there was a vague report, of a female several days earlier, who was asking a pedestrian for directions to the Gibson's home.

But the crucial lead was the information given to them by Joseph Gibson Sr. The senior Gibson's lived in the main farm house on the same farm as Joseph and Beverly Gibson lived. A unknown called, who identified herself as Dawn, called Joseph Sr's residence and said she had befriended Beverly in the maternity ward and wanted directions to her home so she could visit her. Unfortunately, the senior Gibson gave her directions right to his son's home.

The identity of the caller eventually turned out to be Joyce Lynch.

Back in Houston Delaware

In Houston Delaware about 30 miles from where the murderers and kidnapping occurred, Joyce and Richard Lynch were celebrating the birth of a newborn son, Christmas Eve. They had bought baby clothes and Joyce was wearing maternity clothes prior, and now they were joyfully telling everyone they now had a son.

The Delaware State Police eventually zeroes in on the phone call traced by Diamond State Phone Company, and it let them right to the Lynch's doorstep. As they approached the house, Joyce Lynch cordially invited them in. Baby toys lie on the floor in the living room, and she shared with them her great news and said the baby boy had brown eyes like her husband.

Scroll to Continue

The Discovery of Baby Matthew

A picture of baby Matthew was up in their squad room, and they looked at it every day. The lead detective was positive once he saw the baby at the Lynch home, that he was indeed Matthew Gibson.

The Lynch's were asked to bring the child to headquarters, and a footprint comparison to the one taken at the hospital after birth, relayed the happy news, that they had indeed found baby Matthew.

Matthew was eventually returned to his paternal Grandparents, the senior Gibson's.

The Lynch's were arrested

Joyce and Richard Lynch were then arrested for two counts of murder and kidnapping. During an all night interrogation, Joyce Lynch incriminated her husband as the shooter in the killings.

Joyce Lynch tried and convicted

Joyce Lynch went on trial, and claimed her husband, Richard drugged her and convinced her she was pregnant, despite her having a prior hysterectomy.

During the search of the Lynch home, police found a 357 Magnum, spent shells and a paper with directions to the Gibson home. Also found in the trash of the home was baby Matthew's night gown, with his mothers blood on it.

Joyce Lynch was tried and convicted and is still currently serving a life sentence. She is now 69 years old.

Richard Lynch Tried Separetly

Richard Lynch was tried separately. During his trial, his lawyers called a particular witness, that changed everything.

It came out that Joyce Lynch apparently was a very disturbed individual. She seemed to prey on disabled men.

Richard Lynch's attorney argued Joyce Lynch tricked him into believing she gave birth to their child when in fact she committed the crimes to get a baby alone. His attorney described Joyce Lynch as having a twisted mind and a split personality, which caused her to have symptoms of a hysterical pregnancy.

She met a paraplegic man at a rehabilitation hospital in Philadelphia. She moved in with him and later told him she was pregnant with his triplets, that never existed. These too were due on Christmas Day. It was proven that Joyce Lynch had a hysterectomy in the 1970's. One by one, she faked loosing the children. She replaced this man after putting him in a nursing home with gullible Richard Lynch. This time Joyce Lynch proved to be not only unstable but murderous.

Richard Lynch was acquitted of all charges and set free.

Related Articles