Falls Twp Man Charged in Croydon Cold Case Murder from 1991
Updated 5:15 pm Wednesday
A 30 year-old murder mystery has been solved investigators say with the arrest of Robert Atkins of Fairless Hills on Wednesdayfor killing Joy Hibbs, 35, in Croydon in April of 1991.
Atkins was arraigned by District Court Judge Frank W. Peranteau Sr. on two counts of murder, six counts of arson related offenses and two counts of robbery,
He was sent to Bucks County Correctional Facility with bail denied.
Atkinson, a rotund man stood quietly while he listened to the charges filed against him.
Hibbs’ body was found in her Spencer Drive home after first responders were dispatched at about 1 pm for reports of a fire. An autopsy later revealed, Hibbs was beaten, stabbed and likely strangled, even though her body was badly burned.
According to the Grand Jury presentment, witnesses told police they observed a blue Chevrolet Monte Carlo parked in front of Hibbs, Spencer Drive home. Atkins was a ‘person of interest’ investigators said hours after they launched their investigation because he owned a Chevy Monte Carlo.
Hibbs who cashed her check from work that day was likely murdered between 11:50 am and 12:50 pm, court recoords allege.
Police say in court records, Atkins was known to the victim and her husband because he sold pot to them occasionally and further discovered there had been an argument recently about the quality of the marijuana sold to the couple.
In 2014 the unsolved case was assigned to Bristol Township Detective Michael Slaughter who developed a timeline of events leading up to the murder determining Atkins and his then wife April were ‘persons of interest’, court records reveal.
Atkins and his wife divorced by that time in 2014, police say.
Over the next two years investigators interviewed Atkins, his wife, and other police officials involved in the prior murder investigation. Detectives discovered Atkins was a confidential informant for township police relating to meth and pot investigations.
In 2016, Atkins wife, April met with Slaughter on September 11. She had kept his card for two years she told him, court records say.
April told Slaughter that on the day of Hibbs murder her husband came home covered in blood and admitted to stabbing someone. Atkins, police say, told her to call out of work, pack up the kids and went to the Poconos
Further Grand Jury testimony revealed the blue Monte Carlo parked outside of was seen by other witnesses also and told police the car was owned by a person named ‘April.
A third witness told police they want to look into Atkins due to a verbal incident in which he threatened to kill her and blow up her house, court records show.
A local doctor testified he had a similar incident involving Atkins after he refused to pay a medical bill.
Atkins, according to court records is alleged to have threatened the Hibbs family prior to fire and murder.
Family members told police of the threats made against the victim by Atkins in the months before he allegedly killer her and set the Spencer Drive home on fire, court records show.
Slaughter interviewed a former co-worker of Hibbs who thought her husband was the prime suspect in the case, which the Detective told her was not true and he was cleared many years ago. The woman then told Slaughter the Monday before the murder, Hibbs received phone call at work threatening to kill her.
Atkins wife in Grand Jury testimony also said he admitted to setting the house on fire.
She was confronted by police, also, with employment records from Woods Services that said she called out that day at 2:15 pm and her husband had a woman she drove to work sign a document saying the suspect was home at the time of the call, thus providing him with an alibi.
That testimony by Tanya Goldy was deemed not credible by the Grand Jury as untruthful when she was questioned by prosecutors according to court record, thus changing the timeline for the trip to the Poconos.
April told Slaughter after several people she was close to died, she knew there was a lie out there she had to make it right.
In December of 2021, Bucks County Detective David Hanks devised a ruse to intercept communications between, Atkins and his ex-wife. Atkins was was made to think police showed up at his ex-wife’s out of state home unannounced. Atkins was also told, his ex wife told shared details of the murder with her roommate.
Atkins is alleged to have said in the communications the following:
You already said a F***ing enough, don’t say anything
This is ain’t China, they can’t force you to talke
They have the 5th Amendment for a reason
The phone is probably being tapped right now
Atkins in the communications said he thought his arrest was coming soon and saying “I explained everything to Gabriel (his son).”
Police interviewed his son shortly thereafter who described a man in turmoil.
Atkins was subpoenaed before the Grand Jury in which he testified on April 14 of this year and when confronted with his alleged faulty alibi he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.
“This is a bittersweet day for the Hibbs family,” he said. “Mr. Atkins’ arrest decades after he murdered Joy Hibbs is proof that law enforcement perseverance and sheer power of will can overcome many obstacles in proving a murder case. I am grateful to our Bucks County Grand Jury for shining a light on Joy Hibbs’ killer, Robert Atkins, so that we can finally hold him accountable for her murder,” said Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub at today’s press conference.
““I’d like to give special credit to Bristol Township Police Detective Mike Slaughter, Bucks County Detective Dave Hanks, and 1st Assistant Jen Schorn for their determination in solving this murder. Now, we can expect justice to prevail,” the DA said.
The Hibbs family released the following statement:
Joy Hibbs was a sweet, charming southern girl from central Florida. A loving and devoted mother, wife, and medical assistant. She was highly regarded and loved by her friends, neighbors, and co-workers alike.
On April 19th, 1991, she was brutally murdered in her own home in broad daylight. Stabbed five times in the chest and neck and strangled with an electrical cord. Her body and our family home were intentionally set on fire in an attempt to make this horrific crime disappear.
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.
We would like to thank District Attorney Matt Weintraub and Chief Deputy DA Jennifer Schorn and Detective David Hanks for pursuing this case. We especially want to thank Detective Michael Slaughter of the Bristol Township Police
department for his tireless effort in investigating this case and seeking justice for our family. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the community and ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.
You can view the press conference detailing the investigation leading to Atkins arrest by clicking here
Atkins is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on June 8.