The Billy Gasnick Trial – Part 1

Parts of this post were used in Aggravated.

Like almost everyone else in the book, the name Billy Gasnick is a pseudonym, but the actions described in this and the following posts are true to the best of my knowledge. The reason this story is mentioned in Aggravated is because Steve knew Gasnick, and that may have caused some bias against Steve in Ashwell County. This story will be spread across three posts, and is an expanded version of the information in Aggravated.

In 1993, Billy Gasnick raped and killed his step-daughter, Jenny Luborsky. Steve and our father testified against him and gave DNA samples that cleared them of any suspicion in Jenny’s killing. Gasnick was tried and convicted, and then executed in 2000. In 2004, the editor of the local newspaper, Clyde Sledge, told Steve’s attorney, Roland Mathis, that private investigators had told him that they might finally find out who killed Jenny Luborsky. Why would Steve be on their minds in relation to a case that was more than a decade old? Let’s see if we can find out.

On the day that Jenny disappeared, Steve was taking care of several kids at his house, along with Robin’s ailing father. Steve was occupied with caring for them the entire day in the presence of numerous witnesses. That alone should have removed him from being a suspect, but it apparently didn’t in the minds of armchair jurors. Here’s a brief rundown of what happened.

In the late 1980’s, while Steve was still doing construction for an outfit called A-Plus Superior Roofing, he was assigned to work with a guy named Billy Gasnick. Steve told me that he wasn’t Gasnick’s best friend (as a true crime book, A Gruesome End, insisted). They were just co-workers. The author did refer to Steve several times as “Gasnick’s best friend,” often embellishing it with comments like, “Steve would do anything for Billy.” Steve felt that was wildly inaccurate, and thought the author had said that because she relied too much on what the Gasnick family had told her. She did do an interview with Steve, but he didn’t think she relied on it very much.

Steve and Robin introduced Gasnick to Karen Suhler, a friend of Robin’s. Robin thought Karen and Billy, who were both single at the time, seemed lonely. They got married six months later, in December 1989. Steve later regretted introducing them, because he was sure that Jenny would be alive today if Gasnick and Karen had never met, but you can’t know in advance how something will turn out, can you?

The two families did hang out together some, mostly because Robin and Karen were friends, but Steve felt Gasnick took unnecessary advantage of him. One of the things Gasnick frequently asked Steve to do was to help him move, but Steve said, “I got tired of moving him. He’d live in a house until they had to evict him, or had to get him out, and then he’d scrape up the money to do another one, which was probably more money than the rent, but you couldn’t explain that to him.” Steve quickly grew tired of being used, but he still helped when Gasnick asked, for a while at least. After doing it several times, though, he started not being available. The Gasnicks and the Sirois’ still saw each other occasionally, though, because of Robin’s friendship with Karen.

In 1993, Billy, Karen, and the two girls moved into a house near Dwyer, Texas, just a little north of Deep Springs, about a dozen miles away from Steve’s and Robin’s house. One night, Gasnick called Steve in a panic, saying that Jenny had wandered off and he couldn’t find her. He asked Steve to come help him look for her. Steve had been watching kids all day, while Karen and Robin were in Arlington, Texas, participating in a bowling tournament, along with Nancy Foxwell, Robin’s sister. Steve couldn’t leave the house when Billy called, there were seven other people there: Beau and Marri; Jenny’s sister, Rebecca; and Nancy’s son and daughter, Leo and Gail. They had left the kids in Steve’s care for the weekend. Rounding out the group at the house were two more adults: Robin’s dad, Jeff, who was a paraplegic; and our dad, Stan.

When I asked Beau what had happened that day, he said they were all there at the house during the morning, but during the afternoon Steve drove the kids to Joubert Junction, a small community by Lake Ashwell, a few miles to the west of the house. They spent several hours painting the church there, along with a dozen or so other people. It was late afternoon before they went back to the house so Steve could fix the kids supper.

Steve agreed with Beau’s memory, adding that the Bywater Baptist Church had taken a video of him and other church members while they painted. For all those rumor-mongers, Steve had a legitimate alibi for that day. He was around quite a few people, and some of the day was on videotape, but that didn’t stop the Gasnick family from later trying to pin Jenny’s rape and murder on Steve to divert suspicion from Billy.

I’ll cover the murder and the investigation in the next post.

Michael Sirois

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