Woman Pleads Guilty To Killing Sober Home Roommate

Woman Pleads Guilty To Killing Sober Home Roommate

The convicted woman believed that her roommate had told on her for being drunk during her sober home stay.

A Minnesota woman pled guilty to drunkenly murdering her roommate at a sober living facility, because she thought the woman had reported her for being drunk and she would get kicked out of the facility. 

Donna M. Bastyr, 47, killed Corrine L. Gibbs, 69, in May 2018, according to The Star Tribune. Early reporting by the paper said that Gibbs was found dead at about 8 p.m. by the women’s third roommate. She had been severely beaten and had an electrical chord tied around her neck. She had broken ribs, and a dumbbell and bowl nearby were covered with blood. 

Police spoke to a man who Bastyr had been out with the day of the murder. The man said that she was “extremely intoxicated,” and that Bastyr had said that Gibbs “was ‘going to get hers.’ ” The man said that when he was with Bastyr later that day, she admitted to the murder.

The man disclosed that Bastyr said Gibbs “had reported [her] for drinking at the sober house and … believed she was going to get kicked out of the program,” police documents said. 

On Sept. 11, Bastyr will be sentenced for the murder. She is facing 23 to 32½ years in prison, but because of time she has already served she will likely be in prison for 14 to 21 years, the paper reported. 

Unregulated Industry

Gibbs’ death highlights the dangers of the sober home industry, which is almost entirely unregulated. Recently, bones were found at a sober home in Massachusetts. They were later identified as belonging to Clifford Bates, a resident at the home who had gone missing the year before. Bate’s family said that it was unacceptable that the home hadn’t conducted a more thorough search for him. 

“While we accept his death, we never, ever thought he would be found at Lakeshore [the sober living home], a fenced-in property of less than half an acre!!” Bates’ family said in a statement. “That part makes no sense. It makes us ill, angry, and we can’t shake it from our minds.” 

Brian Palmucci, a city councilor in Quincy, Massachusetts, who has advocated for better oversight of sober homes in the state, said that the industry needs more oversight so that people trying to get sober are not put in dangerous situations. 

“It’s a legal loophole that costs lives,” said Brian Palmucci, city councilor in Quincy, Massachusetts, who has advocated for better oversight of sober homes. “We have these charlatans who are taking advantage of the opioid crisis to get rich.”

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