Murder trial jury selection starts

By THE HERALD-NEWS Published: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 12:09 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 10:54 p.m. CDT
Bruce Gempel — Provided photo

Jury selection started Tuesday morning for the murder trial of a Crest Hill man charged with stabbing his 89-year-old neighbor to death and setting her house on fire.

Bruce Gempel, 53, was arrested in connection with the grisly killing in November 2012.

Two days before Gempel was charged with the murder of neighbor Dorothy Dumyahn, an off-duty firefighter passed by her Caton Farm Road home and saw smoke rising from it.

The firefighter reportedly forced the door open and found Dumyahn's body inside the house. The elderly woman had been stabbed 20 times, police said.

At the time of Dumyahn's death, Gempel was living with his brother's family in the house next-door to her home. Prior to the killing, Gempel had fought with Dumyahn over small amounts of money she had recently loaned him, according to investigators.

Gempel was questioned at the Romeoville Police Department by detectives from the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force two days after Dumyahn's death.

Gempel submitted to a lie detector test, according to court records, then asked about speaking to a lawyer three times and said twice that he wanted to leave the police station before he confessed to stabbing Dumyahn and setting her house on fire.

In 2014, now-retired Judge Robert Livas ruled Gempel's incriminating statements were obtained after his rights were ignored. The appellate court upheld that ruling earlier this year.

Gempel faces charges of murder, arson and concealing a homicidal death.