Marvin Gabrion was born on October 18, 1953.
On August 7, 1996, he went with his nephew, Mikey, and Wayne Davis to pick up 18 year old Rachel Timmerman. She believed that she was going to a party.
Shortly after picking Rachel up, Marvin kicked Mikey and Wayne out of the car. He drove off with Rachel then beat her and raped her repeatedly.
The next day, Rachel reported the rape to the Sheriff’s department in White Cloud, Michigan. Marvin was arrested in January 1997, but was released on bail shortly after. Rachel was scheduled to testify against him on June 5.
2 days before the trial, Rachel told her family that she was going on a date. Her date had also invited her 18 month old daughter, Shannon.
Rachel and Shannon were never seen alive again.
Soon after her disappearance, Rachel’s father received a letter saying that she and Shannon going on vacation. The letter appeared to be in Rachel’s handwriting.
When Rachel didn’t show up to testify against Marvin, the rape charges were dropped. Days later, a letter was received by the prosecutor in the case. It appeared to be written by Rachel and said that Marvin had not raped her.
Rachel’s father received another letter from her saying that she and Shannon were fine. She promised to call soon. She did not.
John Weeks, a handyman, went missing after leaving his house with Marvin. It is believed that he is the person who invited Rachel on the date the night she went missing. He has never been located.
Wayne went missing in February 1997. He was also scheduled to testify against Marvin in the rape trial.
Rachel’s body was found on July 5, in Oxford Lake in Manistee National Forest. Cinder blocks were chained to the body. Her eyes and mouth were covered in duct tape. Her autopsy revealed that she had been alive when she was put in the water.
Shannon’s body has never been recovered, but it is assumed that she is dead.
Marvin was immediately the primary suspect. Concrete blocks matching the ones chained to Rachel’s body and keys that matched the padlock used to secure the chains were found as his residence. Marvin was nowhere to be found.
Upon further investigation, police discovered that Marvin had been living in a home owned by Robert Allen. Marvin had also been receiving Social Security checks in Robert’s name. Robert has never been seen again. It is presumed that both he and John are dead.
In October, Marvin applied for a post office box in Robert’s name. Police were able to track him down. He was convicted of Social Security fraud and sentenced to 5 years.
Marvin was tried for Rachel’s murder. During the trial, he attempted to fire his attorneys and represent himself. The judge denied this request due to Marvin’s strange behavior and disruptions during the trial. Marvin punched his attorney in the courtroom, in front of the jury.
His defense argued that Marvin was mentally incompetent due to brain injuries suffered in a car accident.
Marvin was sentenced to death in March 2002, despite the fact that he was tried in Michigan. Michigan has not had the death penalty since 1846.
Prosecutors were able to seek the death penalty in this case because Rachel’s body was found on federal land. He was tried and convicted in federal court in Michigan.
Marvin was the first person to be sentenced to death in federal court since the death penalty was reinstated federally in 1988.
Marvin’s attorneys tried to raise the question of where Rachel was murdered. If she had been murdered somewhere else and then dumped on federal land, the death penalty could not be requested.
Wayne’s body was found in July in Manistee National Park.
Marvin’s appeals were denied and he is on death row in Indiana.
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