Woman Pleads Guilty To Killing Sober Home Roommate

By Kelly Burch 08/15/19

The convicted woman believed that her roommate had told on her for being drunk while residing at the sober home.

woman under arrest for killing sober home roommate
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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 feared 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 by the women’s third roommate. She suffered broken ribs from being severely beaten and had an electrical chord tied around her neck. A dumbbell and bowl nearby were covered in 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. 

Bastyr will be sentenced for the murder on September 11. She is facing 23 to 32 and a half 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 potential dangers of the sober home industry, which is largely unregulated. Recently, human bones were found at a sober home in Massachusetts. They were later identified as belonging to Clifford Bates, a former resident of the home who had gone missing the year prior. Bates' 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 Palmucci. “We have these charlatans who are taking advantage of the opioid crisis to get rich.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.