People Magazine Investigates is examing the murder of Joy Hibbs, who was killed in her own home in Croydon, Pennsylvania, in 1991. Her case remained cold and unsolved for decades until this year when Robert Atkins was arrested on suspicion of killing Hibbs.
On April 19, 1991, Hibbs’s 12-year-old son, David Hibbs, returned home early from school to discover his suburban home engulfed in flames. Fearing his mom was in the house, he ran to a neighbor’s home and raised the alarm.
After the firefighters were able to get the blaze under control, they made a grisly discovery, the remains of 35-year-old Joy Hibbs were found lying in her son’s bedroom.
At first, the investigators suspected that Hibbs had perished in a tragic accidental fire; however, an autopsy changed everything. A medical examiner found that she had been stabbed repeatedly, her ribs were fractured, and she had likely died from asphyxiation. Crucially, there was no smoke in her lungs, meaning she had died before the fire.
At the time, the police had a number of suspects, which included Robert Atkins. He had supplied Hibbs and her husband with marijuana and had recently had an argument with the couple over the quality of his drugs.
A car described as matching Atkins’s own vehicle was spotted outside the house shortly before the fire. He also refused to take a polygraph test. But, he did supply a vague alibi through a coworker of his wife, April Atkins.
The police didn’t have enough to make an arrest, and nothing much happened until 2014, when fresh publicity led to an invigorated investigation.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
The cops eventually arrested Robert Atkins in Joy Hibbs murder case
A major breakthrough came in the case when April Atkins finally admitted to the police that on the day of the murder, her husband had come home covered in blood and confessed to murdering an individual and setting fire to their house.
Robert Atkins was arrested and charged with murder in May 2022. He currently remains in custody and his trial is expected to begin preliminary hearings in September.
The Hibbs family has since said in a statement: “The immense grief and suffering our family has endured over the last three decades will never disappear. For thirty-one years, our family has been haunted by this tragic loss, knowing, without a doubt, that Robert Atkins was the perpetrator. Our family has waited thirty-one years for justice to prevail.
More from People Magazine Investigates
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People Magazine Investigates airs Monday at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.