BEDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Temperance man has been found guilty of murder after he used a piggy bank and a child gate to beat a woman to death and then beheaded her body, officials said.
Kenny Wayne McBride, 45, of Temperance, was charged with homicide -- open murder and disinterment and mutilation of a dead body in connection with the Feb. 16, 2020, death of Cecilia Gibson.
Gibson, 79, was found dead at 3:14 a.m. Feb. 16 in the living room of a home in the 8800 block of Lewis Avenue in Bedford Township, authorities said. The case was ruled a homicide two days later, and the day after that, McBride was taken into custody.
How McBride knew Gibson
Investigators said Gibson had been living with her son in his Temperance home and helping to care for his wife, who recently died of cancer.
Gibson’s son is McBride’s father, authorities said. McBride had been estranged from his father for many years but started staying at the same home about six weeks earlier, according to officials.
Gibson found dead
Gibson’s son said he last saw his mother alive around 1:30 p.m. Feb. 16, 2020 -- a Sunday -- when he left for work.
When he returned home from work around 3 a.m. Feb. 17, he found a body and a lot of blood in his dark living room, authorities said. At first, he didn’t realize the body was his mother’s, and he called 911, police said.
McBride was the only other person in the home and claimed to have no knowledge of what happened, according to officials.
Police officers arrived and found Gibson’s dismembered body and clear signs of “a violent, bloody struggle.”
They said Gibson’s head had been removed from her body and thrown outside.
Police believe Gibson and McBride got into an argument about McBride’s children -- all but one of whom he had ignored for years, officials said.
Investigators said McBride became enraged during the argument and beat Gibson to death using a ceramic piggy bank and a metal child gate. She was struck at least 19 times and suffered massive head trauma, authorities said.
After Gibson was dead, McBride used three knives to cut off her head, investigators said. He carried it through the house, opened the back door and threw her head into the yard, according to police.
Officials said Gibson’s head landed near where her son parked when he returned home from work, but he didn’t see it in the dark of night.
Investigators found the knives, McBride’s bloody jeans and cut-up photographs of McBride’s children. The only photos of his that weren’t cut up were photos of the one with whom he maintained a relationship, according to authorities.
Police also used DNA evidence, cellphone records and fingerprints to link McBride to the murder. They said he had injuries to his hands and heads that suggested a physical struggle.
Jury rejects McBride’s claims
Police said the jury rejected a number of McBride’s claims about the incident, including that he injured his hands while working on his car in the driveway.
During the trial, jury members learned that McBride had paid a local auto parts store to replace his car battery earlier that very day. They didn’t believe that he had then hurt his hands while working on his car in the middle of Februrary without gloves.
McBride also testified that Gibson was likely killed and mutilated by someone he personally owed money to, but said he feared for himself and his family so he couldn’t say that person’s name.
During closing arguments, an assistant prosecuting attorney said McBride didn’t appear to have been afraid when investigators arrived at the murder scene or any time afterwards. She also said McBride had never mentioned that possible reason for Gibson’s murder before his testimony.
The assistant prosecuting attorney also said that if someone went to the home to murder Gibson, they likely wouldn’t have entered the house while there were four cars in the driveway and killed Gibson with a piggy bank and baby gate. They likely wouldn’t have left their bloody pants or taken time to cut up family photos, she argued.
“This gruesome case presented some challenging evidentiary issues, but the efforts of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and hundreds of hours of diligent and outstanding work by assistant prosecuting attorneys Allison Arnold, Leah Hubbard and Anthony Capser helped secure this conviction,” prosecuting attorney Michael Roehrig said.
Trial and sentencing
McBride’s trial began Monday (June 7), and a Monroe County jury found him guilty Thursday (June 10) after two hours of deliberation. Prosecutors called 19 witnesses during the trial, including members of Gibson’s family.
Officials said open murder includes both first- and second-degree murder. McBride was also charged as a habitual offender -- fourth offense because of three previous felony convictions.
The penalty for first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole, while the penalty for the mutilation charge is up to 10 years in prison.
McBride is expected to be sentenced Aug. 19. Several members of Gibson’s family who were at the trial are expected to speak at the sentencing, officials said.
“It is difficult to imagine the hatred that must have driven the defendant to commit such a brutal and horrifying murder,” Roehrig said. “The jury’s verdict was just, and will result in McBride living out the rest of his life in prison.”