Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Marvin Gabrion

Real Name: Marvin Charles Gabrion II
Aliases: Robert Allen
Wanted For: Rape, Murder
Missing Since: June 1997


Details: Marvin Gabrion is the prime suspect in the murder of Rachel Timmerman and the disappearances of several people connected to him. On the night of August 7, 1996, eighteen-year-old Rachel left a party with forty-three-year-old Gabrion, a family friend, and two other men. After stopping in a field, Gabrion ordered the other two men out of the car and then drove off with Rachel. Gabrion then violently beat her and raped her three times. After a six month investigation, Gabrion was arrested and charged with rape. He was then released on bail two weeks later. According to Rachel's family, the rape had a horrible effect on her, both physically and mentally. She had much difficulty trusting others.
In the months following the rape, Rachel attempted to turn her life around. She began focusing her time on her eighteen-month-old daughter, Shannon Verhage, her family, and her work at a local restaurant. However, as the date for Gabrion's preliminary hearing came closer, Rachel worried about having to testify against him. She told her parents that Gabrion had threatened her several times. She also said that she was having recurring nightmares about Gabrion and believed that he would kill her. Her father told her that he would help her with the trial. However, according to her parents, on June 3, 1997, Rachel seemed happy. She told her father that she was going on a date with a man, and that the man told her to bring Shannon along. She also told her father that she would be home within a few hours, but that time came and went. Rachel and Shannon did not return and were never seen again.
The next day, Rachel's father received a letter, allegedly from Rachel. She said that she was going on vacation. He was concerned because she had just started her job and was supposed to testify soon. On June 5, Gabrion had his preliminary hearing, but Rachel did not show up. Without her testimony, authorities were forced to drop the rape charges against him. Eleven days later, the prosecutor for the case received a letter, allegedly from Rachel, that was postmarked from Little Rock, Arkansas. The letter said that Rachel had tried to have intercourse with Gabrion, but when he refused, she made up the rape allegation. The prosecutor did not believe that Rachel wrote the letter; she believed that Rachel was in danger.
The same day, Rachel's father also received a letter postmarked from Little Rock. The letter, also allegedly written by Rachel, said that she and Shannon were fine and that she would soon call him. However, he never received a call from her. Two weeks later, on the morning of July 5, the decomposed body of a young woman was found on Oxford Lake. The body was later identified as Rachel's. She had been wrapped in chains and cement blocks had been padlocked to the chains. She also had duct tape over her mouth and eyes. Disturbingly, the autopsy determined that Rachel had been thrown into the lake alive and drowned. However, no trace of Rachel's daughter Shannon was found.
Authorities theorized that whoever kidnapped Rachel forced her to write the letters on June 3. After dumping Rachel into the lake, the killer then mailed the letters. From the beginning there was one obvious suspect: Marvin Gabrion. Authorities went to Gabrion's residence and found cinder blocks on his property that matched those found tied to Rachel's body. Authorities now believe that Gabrion killed Rachel in order to prevent her from testifying against him at trial. However, Gabrion fled the area before police could arrest him.
Curiously, Gabrion was not the only person that turned up missing in the police investigation. The first person to go missing was Wayne Davis, a friend of Gabrion, who was one of the two men kicked out of the car on the night of Rachel's rape in 1996. Wayne had agreed to testify against Gabrion at his trial, but he vanished a few days after Gabrion was released from jail.
John Weeks was the second person to go missing; he was an acquaintance of Gabrion's and a friend of Rachel's who had asked her out on a date a few weeks prior to her death. He was later identified as the person that picked her and Shannon up on the day of their disappearances. John vanished in late June of 1997.
Authorities brought the FBI to investigate the bizarre case. They discovered that Gabrion was using the alias of "Robert Allen". The real Robert Allen is a transient who vanished in 1995. None of these people have been located and Gabrion is now wanted for Rachel's murder.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 10, 1998 episode. The case was also documented on FBI: Criminal Pursuit, which included dialog that implied Gabrion murdered Shannon.
Results: Captured. In October 1997, Gabrion was arrested in Sherman, New York; he was found to be cashing Robert Allen's social security checks. A few days later, he appeared at an identity hearing in New York. Initially, he denied that he was Gabrion, but his identity was soon confirmed.
In June 1999, Gabrion was officially indicted for Rachel's murder. Several witnesses claimed to have seen him with her and another man (believed to be John Weeks) near Oxford Lake the day after she vanished. The witnesses recalled him driving a distinct pickup truck with a boat attached. Two days after that, his neighbor saw him dragging a metal boat on his gravel driveway. The neighbor also saw him pulling out two life vests, three concrete blocks, and a length of chain from the boat. He then pulled it into his garage and ground off the serial numbers.
When police searched Gabrion's home, they found two keys that matched the padlocks found on Rachel's body. Also, the concrete blocks at his home were stained with the same tar and paint materials as those attached to Rachel’s body. Gabrion's nephew later led investigators to his campsite near Oxford Lake. They found bolt cutters, another length of shiny chain, duct tape, a woman’s hair clip, and silicone nipples for a baby bottle.
Several witnesses also testified to Gabrion's propensity for violence. Two described how each of their homes had been set afire shortly after a disagreement with him. Another described how he began shooting a bolt-action rifle towards his home after he told him to leave a party there. Another described how he trained a rifle on her and her two-year-old child as she walked to her car one day, and then climbed into his and followed them for miles. Another testified as to how he sexually assaulted her in her home. Another testified that he beat and kicked him, punched his wife in the face, and then punched his teenage son, after the witness interrupted a card game to retrieve heart medicine for his uncle. Yet another said that Gabrion claimed he could shoot anyone in the neighborhood. The next day, his house was shot at by him.
In March 2002, a federal jury convicted Gabrion in Rachel's murder; he was later sentenced to death. Wayne Davis' body was found in July 2002; he was killed in a similar fashion as Rachel and Gabrion remains the prime suspect. However, Shannon Verhage, John Weeks, and Robert Allen remain missing. Gabrion appealed his sentence and conviction, but it was upheld in 2006. In August 2011, Gabrion's death sentence conviction was overturned and it was changed to life in prison.
In May 2012, Gabrion's death sentence was reinstated by a federal appeals court stating "that Michigan lacks a death penalty has nothing to do with these things. It has nothing to do with Gabrion's background or character. It has nothing to do with the reasons why he chose to kill Rachel Timmerman. It has nothing to do with the utter depravity of the manner in which he killed her, and above all, it has nothing to do with his culpability for that offense or with any other consideration the Supreme Court has ever flagged as mitigating. Gabrion does not even argue the contrary."