Doctor charged with killing missing Chesterfield nurse

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The doctor charged with murdering his girlfriend, missing Chesterfield nurse Zulma Pabon, is an innocent man, his lawyer proclaimed Wednesday outside Chesterfield court. Dr. John Gibbs' attorney said she believed the Commonwealth charged Gibbs with Pabon's murder this week in an effort to influence other criminal charges filed against the doctor.

"The hardest man to represent is an innocent man," Gibbs' attorney Debra Corcoran said following Gibbs' initial court appearance. "I think [officials] have wanted to get at Dr. Gibbs for some time and what better way to do it that causes a lot of attention in the media for something like this before a sentencing."

Gibbs was arrested in Massanutten, Virginia on Tuesday and charged with Pabon's murder, even though her body has never been found.

Zulma Pabon

Pabon, 26, was last seen alive on June 6, 2014.

After more than two years of investigating what was initially a suspicious missing person's case, investigators concluded Pabon was dead. The case was re-classified as a death investigation, specifically a no-body homicide.

John Gibbs (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

Gibbs appeared via video conference from jail before Judge T.J. Hauler in Chesterfield Circuit Court Wednesday morning.

In a separate case, Gibbs was arrested in February 2016 and charged with child neglect after police said he left his five-year-old son alone on more than one occasion He was found guilty in November.

"His son got out the house they lived in, he went outside and walked over to Costco and that’s why Dr. Gibbs is charged with felony neglect," Corcoran said.

Gibbs was scheduled to appear for sentencing in Chesterfield Circuit Court on March 28, the same day he will now appear for a status hearing on the Pabon murder charge.

"Just before a sentencing to indictment him? They could’ve waited until afterwards," Corcoran said. "Mr. Gibbs is a good man. His whole life has been ruined because of these allegations. He’s lost his job, his children aren’t with him, and he’s lost his standing with the community."

Gibbs has retained both Corcoran and Craig Cooley, who represented the Midlothian doctor for his child neglect case.

"There are innocent people when people are charged with these types of crimes. They do exist," Corcoran said.

CBS 6 has reached out to the Chesterfield County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for comment about the case.

Pabon's sister said she was pleased to learn police arrested Gibbs.

"It’s just a roller coaster of emotions, being really sad and depressed to angry,” Yalitza Soba about the situation. "Just getting that phone call and knowing that he has been arrested, it brought tears to my eyes."

Soba said the arrest was just the beginning of a long journey.

"I look forward to justice for my beautiful sister and my nephew," she said.

Captain Mike Louth said that police were always interested in Gibbs.

"Because of his connection to her, certainly we always had some interest in him, thinking he had knowledge of what happened to Miss Pabon," Louth said. "You don`t want to rush the case...have to have all the facts, evidence and fit all the pieces of the puzzle together to do it the right way."

Legal analyst Todd Stone said its natural for cases to take some time. Especially, he said, when police don`t find the victim`s body, because a prosecutor has to prove several different elements of a crime.

"When a prosecutor goes forward in a case without a body, and if they lose, they`re in trouble because jeopardy will keep them from prosecuting a second time," he said.