Police: Homeless man admits to waking up next to Lufkin woman's dead body

Winfred Kilgore mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Winfred Kilgore mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Larry Penick
Larry Penick

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin Police have arrested a homeless man who they say admitted to waking up next to a Lufkin woman's dead body.

Winfred Kilgore, 55, is charged with tampering with physical evidence.

"The decision to arrest him didn't come until after receiving information that he gave us," said Detective J.B. Smith, LPD.

Last week, police released a bulletin asking for the public's help in locating Kilgore. Within minutes after that bulletin was released, police learned Kilgore was in Jacksonville.

Lufkin police officers headed to Jacksonville to interview Kilgore.

"He gave investigators information that he'd been with her the night before, he actually slept there under the bridge with her. When he woke up in the morning, she was deceased," said Smith.

Smith says instead of alerting police, he fled to Jacksonville.

"A reasonable person in his situation should've known to contact law enforcement," said Smith.

That lapse in judgement led to a charge of tampering with evidence.

"The actual crime is a sub-set of that crime of failure to report the existence of a human corpse," said Smith.

Police found the body on August 11th, after a call from Larry Penick. He says Bybee was his girlfriend.

"I said man, I wonder what's under this mattress? So I get up, grab the mattress, pull it back. There she is laying face down," said Penick.

Penick had been in jail about a week.  The day he got out, he looked for Bybee, wanting to reconnect.

Penick says he was drawn to the bridge because it was underneath it where he spent his last evening with his girlfriend.

"We were talking about getting married, but I guess that's out the window," said Penick.

Now, he wants to know what really happened to the woman he says he loved.

"I just want to know the truth. If she died from natural cause, I'm happy. If she didn't the person who did it needs to pay," said Penick.

An arrest warrant affidavit provides more detail into the death of Joy Yvonee Bybee, who was found dead under a bridge in the 300 block of South Timberland Drive.

The affidavit states Bybee's body was discovered nude and lying between two mattresses and her body was not visible to the public. It also states police learned of the body from her boyfriend on Aug. 11, around 5 p.m.

Police were attempting to locate Kilgore as part of their investigation into the death of Joy Bybee. The affidavit states a local business video shows Bybee enter the business with Kilgore. He was the last person she was seen alive with.

According to Smith, the detectives did not have information that suggested Kilgore was involved in the circumstances leading to Bybee's death, but they did know that Kilgore was with her the previous day and believed that he possessed information that would assist in determining her actions prior to her death.

Upon receiving information that Kilgore was in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Police Department located Kilgore and notified him of Lufkin Police Department's investigation and need to speak with him. Kilgore waited at Jacksonville Police Department until the detectives arrived from Lufkin and interviewed him.

According to the affidavit, after several inconsistent statements, Kilgore admitted that he had spent the night with Bybee under the bridge. When he woke up, Bybee was lying dead next to him, according to the affidavit. Kilgore said he panicked and quickly left the scene without telling police about the body, according to the affidavit.

Angelina County Jail records show Kilgore was booked into the Angelina County Jail on Friday, where he is being held on a $10,000 bail.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.