A Floyd County man’s disappearance six years ago is now being treated as a murder — with his son as the chief suspect.
Robert Joseph Gibbons, 33, of Snowshoe, W.Va., was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Robert James Langhorne Gibbons, a 65-year-old Check man who was reported missing in August 2014, a statement issued Wednesday by the county sheriff’s office said.
The younger Gibbons was arrested last month after a body was found rolled in a carpet and buried in a shallow grave in the woods on the elder Gibbons’ property, Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Brancom said. The body was determined to be that of Robert James Langhorne Gibbons.
Branscom declined to say how the older man died or what may have led to the killing, saying he is awaiting a full autopsy report from the Virginia medical examiner’s office. The prosecutor said that he did not think the two Gibbonses lived together at the time that the older man disappeared.
According to the sheriff’s office statement, Robert James Langhorne Gibbons’ daughter called the sheriff’s office on Aug. 29, 2014, and asked for a wellness check on her father. She said she had not heard from him for several days and was worried.
Deputies went to the elder Gibbons’ residence on Lick Ridge Road but could not find him, the sheriff’s office said.
The elder Gibbons’ disappearance became a missing person case and was regularly reviewed by investigators, the sheriff’s office said.
Branscom remembered that when he became commonwealth’s attorney in December 2014, one theory was that the missing man had been killed in a hunting accident. Officers searched the woods, Branscom said. Another theory was that he had simply left the area. Investigators continued trying to discover what had happened, Branscom said.
“They kept working on it over time and finally … they got a tip this past summer,” Branscom said.
In August 2020, officers received information that led to the discovery of the elder Gibbons’ remains, the sheriff’s office said.
Branscom and the sheriff’s office praised the Virginia State Police for assisting with the case.
After the younger Gibbons was arrested, Branscom’s office began what became a monthlong process to extradite him from West Virginia, Branscom said. It was complicated by COVID-19-related postal service delays, with paperwork taking weeks to get from Floyd to West Virginia, he said.
Eventually, as the legal process came together, the defendant waived extradition and was brought back to Virginia, Branscom said.
On Tuesday, Robert Joseph Gibbons was brought to the New River Valley Regional Jail, where he was being held Wednesday.