The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 26, 2013

Nibbe family members want property law changed

— When Leslie Nibbe Johnson sat before a Senate committee recently, she did her best to describe how her family had been victimized twice by the woman who killed her brother.

Jennifer Nibbe was arrested 10 days after her husband, James Nibbe, was found shot to death in their rural Lake Crystal home Aug. 31, 2010. A day after her arrest, Nibbe called investigators to the Blue Earth County Jail and confessed to the killing.

Jennifer Nibbe’s father, Dan Gilman, and James Nibbe’s family were told about the confession a short time later, Johnson said. So she and other members of her family went to Gilman and asked if they could gather some of their brother’s property.

They weren’t looking for vehicles, furniture or other expensive items the couple had purchased since their marriage. James Nibbe’s family wanted sentimental things, such as gifts from Jim’s father, hunting equipment he used with his brother, his golf clubs, his watch.

Gilman initially told them no problem, said Johnson of rural Vernon Center. He asked the family to make a list he could show to his daughter, then anything that belonged to Jim would be returned.

Two years passed, Jennifer Nibbe pleaded guilty to murder and was sent to prison and Johnson’s family has only been able to recover a fraction of what her brother left behind.

“It is difficult to articulate the frustration eloquently for me,” Johnson told the committee before explaining she doesn’t want another family to face the same problem. “The manupulation and the pain that her father was able to put us through simply because we had no rights just added to the agony and suffering that our family went through.

“It’s bad enough to lose someone. But then you lose someone to murder and you have to struggle for two years to get a pair of tube socks back. It’s really sad.”

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