Joyce M. Gibbs, 46, of De Soto, was charged with disorderly conduct in Johnson County Tuesday morning for her report that kept the residents of Goreville on edge over an erroneous claim of an armed and dangerous man on the loose at Ferne Clyffe State Park in early October.
Gibbs’ preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 4. where she will face charges of reporting “that an offense had been committed, while knowing at the time of the transmission that no such offense had been committed.”
Residents of Johnson County, and those living along the Ferne Clyffe State Park boundary in particular, were kept on edge for more than 24 hours starting the evening of Monday, Oct. 7, as reports emerged of an ongoing manhunt for an armed and dangerous suspect in the abduction of a woman left “brutally beaten” in the park.
Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner said he and others had their suspicions early on in the case, but due to the possibility of a true threat, the situation was treated with regards to public safety first.
“She told me she got taken at gunpoint in Creal Springs at the station,” sheriff Faulkner said in a telephone interview two days after it was determined Gibbs’ complaint was erroneous. “I made the comment that that’s great because they have good video there and I’ve worked with them before and we’ll get the video.
“When she got to the hospital she told investigators up there, she was wrong, it wasn’t Creal Springs, it was Herrin,” Faulkner continued. “And then later on she told them, no, she didn’t think it was Herrin, it was someplace in Murphysboro.
“So, if you get someone to jump in the car with you with a gun, you’re going to know where it happened.”
Sheriff Faulkner said he knew people in the area were concerned and upset in the amount of time it took for police to provide further details, but that until they were certain the claim was false the situation had to be treated as real.
“I could see no physical injuries on her at all when I talked to her,” Faulkner said. “Now the EMT’s did tell me she had a little knot on the back of her head, but that could have been from anything. So, I know there (were) a lot of rumors going around about her being all beat up and everything, and really, she wasn’t beat up.”
The Illinois State Police were brought in on the investigation and working in conjunction with the Johnson County State’s Attorney Tambra K. Cain, reported the following evening that it was believed that the complaint received by law enforcement the previous night contained erroneous information.
“Even if you have your suspicions about the accuracy of a report, until disproved, better safe than sorry,” Cain said. “You don’t want to take a chance on someone else being victimized.”
Gibbs is charged with a Class 4 Felony and could face between one and three years, or probation, if found guilty. No further information on the case was available at this time.
*UPDATE: this story has been updated from its original printed version.