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Jeffrey Allen WHIPPS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Arson
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 13, 1987 / June 17, 1995
Date of arrest: June 18, 1995
Date of birth: ???
Victims profile: Lisa McCracken, 19 / Jill Slater, 15
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Knox County, Indiana, USA
Status: Sentenced to 89 years in prison in 1996. Sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2004

Convicted murderer pleads guilty to a second murder in Knox County


Jeffrey Whipps had originally pleaded not guilty to the murder of Vincennes University student Lisa McCracken. The murder happened in 1987 at McCracken's off-campus apartment.

The case remained unsolved for 13 years, until random DNA testing in 2000 matched Whipps' DNA to DNA found at the murder scene. At that time, Whipps was already serving 89 years in prison for the 1995 murder of Jill Slater.

He faced the death penalty in the McCracken case, but Monday's plea bargain whittles his sentence down to 40 years more in prison.

Lisa's family, the prosecutor, and the lead investigator say they're all satisfied with this ending to the now 15 year old murder. Knox County prosecutor John Sievers says, "There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction both for the family and for law enforcement to hear an individual admit that he did it. Even after a trial, and I've talked to the victim's family, it's never quite closed even though their trials come and they've been found guilty. Without a person taking accountability for that, there's always a little bit lacking."

Whipps will be sentenced October 2nd. The 40 year sentence expected to be imposed then will be served after his current 89 year prison term. Even with good behavior, the soonest he could be released from prison is 2059. Whipps will be 90 years old by then.


Jeffrey Whipps

The small town of Vincennes, Indiana is known to many in the Tri-State as the town where murders are rarely solved, but that reputation is now changing.

19 year old Lisa McCracken was murdered October 13th, 1987. Thirteen years later police announced DNA evidence found in McCracken's apartment and on her body matched that of convicted murderer Jeffrey Whipps.

Whipps had been arrested in June of 1995, but not for McCracken's murder. He was in prison convicted for the murder of another Vincennes teenager, 15 year old Jill Slater.

A recent DNA test by Indiana State Police linked both murders to Whipps. He is currently serving 89 years for Slater's murder and awaiting trial for the McCracken murder. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.

Police say that leaves one unsolved murder in Vincennes. Kathleen Westfall was 44 years old when she was murdered May 31, 1995. She was reported missing after she didn't show up for work at Good Samaritan Hospital. When police arrived at 8:15pm at her apartment on Bayou Street, they found her beaten to death. An autopsy showed she suffered blunt trauma to the head and upper body. She had been dead for several hours.

Police say Westfall was struck numerous times with what they call "a smooth surfaced object." Her apartment showed no signs of forced entry, so detectives believe she probably knew her attacker enough to let the person into her home. There also weren't many signs of a struggle, indicating the attacker may have caught her off guard when she wasn't looking. Police say Westfall wasn't sexually assaulted, but wouldn't comment on whether any items were stolen from her apartment.  

When Westfall was murdered, Jeffrey Whipps had not yet been arrested for either the Slater or McCracken murders. Westfall was murdered in May of 1995, Whipps was arrested 22 days later. Ironically, Westfall lived directly across the street from Slater.

Indiana State Police Detective Gary Gilbert says Whipps was never considered a suspect in the Westfall murder because the method of killing was completely different from the Slater and McCracken murders. Westfall was beaten, Slater and McCracken were stabbed and their two crimes had many other striking similarities. The Indiana State Police still actively investigate the Westfall case and hope they can soon add it to their "Solved Cases."



CAUSE NO. 42S00-9609-CR-623

JEFFREY ALLEN WHIPPS, Appellant (Defendant Below)


STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff Below)

The Honorable Murphy C. Land, Judge
Cause No. 42C01-9506-CF-034

SHEPARD, Chief Justice.

A jury found appellant Jeffrey A. Whipps guilty of murder; arson, a class B felony; and sexual misconduct with a minor, a class C felony. The trial court sentenced him to eighty-nine years in prison. We affirm.

The evidence at trial tended to prove that Whipps left the residence of a friend at about 6 a.m. on June 17, 1995, and entered a home some 150 feet away where a young child and a fifteen-year- old babysitter were still asleep. Whipps had sex with the babysitter, killed her with a stab wound to the center of her chest, and then set the house a fire in two places.

The following day, the police called Whipps and said they would like to talk to him. Two officers drove to the home where Whipps lived with his mother. Whipps came out and sat in the back of the squad car.

In the course of this conversation, one of the officers noticed that Whipps' left shoe had been burned. He told Whipps he would like to sketch the sole of his shoe. Whipps removed the shoe and handed it to the officer.

While sketching, the officer noticed what he thought was blood on the shoe. He handed it to his superior officer. After examining it, the senior officer stopped the interview and said it was time to read Whipps his Miranda rights.

There was a brief tug of war over the shoe, which the officers won. Whipps proceeded to give a statement (the first of three denying involvement in the crime). The police apparently did not arrest Whipps on this occasion, but they did keep his shoe. After holding a hearing on Whipps' motion to suppress, the trial court permitted the State to offer the shoe as evidence during Whipps' trial.

Whipps contends that the shoe should have been excluded as the product of a seizure that violated the Fourth Amendment. He notes the absence of a warrant and contends his passing of the shoe was involuntary.

We test questions of voluntariness by reviewing the totality of the circumstances. Williams v. State, 611 N.E.2d 649 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993), trans. denied. It is apparent that the trial court was justified in viewing the circumstances under which Whipps handed the officer his shoe as voluntary.

Having once received the shoe from suspect Whipps and having observed it was burned and possibly bloody, the officers were authorized to retain it. They had obtained access to the shoe lawfully and its incriminating nature was immediately apparent. These two facts authorized seizure of the shoe under the Fourth Amendment. Taylor v. State, 659 N.E.2d 535, 538-39 (Ind. 1995). It was properly admitted as evidence.

Whipps also claims error in permitting the child who was under charge of the babysitter to identify him in the courtroom. Whipps did not object when the child identified him, however, and thus has not preserved this issue for appeal. Clausen v. State, 622 N.E.2d 925 (Ind. 1993).

Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson, Sullivan, Selby, and Boehm, JJ., concur.



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