Ryan A. Nibbe

Ryan A. Nibbe

CREST HILL — A former Gibson City man is back in an Illinois prison to finish serving a sentence he received in 2016 for throwing a punch that killed another Gibson City man three years earlier.

Ryan A. Nibbe, 39, whose last known address was in Decatur, was returned to Stateville Correctional Center in suburban Crest Hill on June 13 after he violated his parole in March by repeatedly punching his then-girlfriend in the head while she was driving on a highway in Georgia.

Fearing for her life, the woman contacted Nibbe’s parole officer in Illinois to request a parole hold on Nibbe as he was serving a 60-day jail sentence at the Hall County Jail in Gainesville, Ga. The parole officer complied, issuing a warrant for his extradition.

Nibbe was charged with four counts of misdemeanor battery in Hall County and ended up pleading guilty to one of those counts on April 30, receiving 60 days in jail with credit for time served. Nibbe was set to be released from jail there on May 26, but Georgia authorities agreed to keep him there longer in order to ensure his extradition to Illinois.

Nibbe had been released from the Illinois Department of Corrections in July 2018 after serving a portion of a 10-year sentence he received in Ford County Circuit Court for an aggravated battery conviction in connection with the July 2013 death of 44-year-old Gibson City resident Timothy Robertson.

Nibbe is expected to be released from prison again — and his sentence discharged — on July 17.

His ex-girlfriend, former Champaign resident and current Atlanta resident Dana L. Major, said she continues to live in fear of Nibbe, whose lengthy criminal record includes nine felony and 13 misdemeanor convictions, including three for aggravated battery in a public place, five for battery and three for domestic battery, which have landed Nibbe in prison six times already.

Major said she began dating Nibbe in January, and their relationship was going well at first. During a March road trip to visit Nibbe’s sisters in Georgia, however, things took a turn for the worse. That was when the 6-foot, 230-pound Nibbe allegedly began physically abusing her and tracking her communication on her cell phone through a “cloning program,” Major said.

“He had me completely trapped and so terrified of him that I just tried to do everything he told me to do to keep him from getting even a little bit angry with me,” Major said.

On March 25, they got into an argument as Major was driving on Interstate 985 near Atlanta.

“He started screaming at me and hitting me in my face while I was driving, and I was driving on I-985 outside of Atlanta, so I was going pretty fast,” Major said. “I kept telling him that if he kept hitting me I’d have to pull over. After mocking me and punching me in the side of my head at least five times, I told him I couldn’t keep driving, that I was starting to black out and I had to pull the car over. That’s when he reached across my lap, pulled his knife out from the door pocket, and told me that if I pulled over he was going to stab me and kill me.

“I looked at him right in his face right as he started to lean forward with the knife in his hand, and I knew I was about to die. I didn’t even think twice. I hit the gas and drove my car straight off the interstate at about 65 mph and crashed right into a row of trees, totaling my 2012 Hyundai Elantra.

“I’d been wearing my seat belt, but he hadn’t been, and almost all of the impact from the crash had gone to his side of the car. Once I realized that I wasn’t hurt too badly and saw that he was knocked out from the impact, I got out of my car and ran as fast as I could up to the road to flag down help. And for the first time in nearly a month I could breathe again.”

Reports released by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office to the Ford County Record confirmed that Major told the same story to sheriff’s deputies after they arrived on scene.

“After talking with Dana, the victim, she stated that she has been physically abused by Ryan multiple times in the past,” a deputy wrote in the reports. “For this incident, Dana stated that Ryan had hit her in the face multiple times. Dana did have a mark on her forehead. Dana also had multiple bruises on her body from what she said were from previous physical encounters with Ryan.”

Both Major and Nibbe were taken to a hospital in Braselton, Ga., to be checked for further injuries.

“I had three fractured ribs, a very angry and bruised liver due to blunt-force trauma, a mild concussion, and the gash on my elbow reopened up,” Major said. “My elbow and all of my bruises were photographed and documented by the ER nurses for the Gainesville (police department), noting that all of my bruises were in various stages of healing, indicating they weren’t from the wreck but from prolonged physical abuse. I spent almost four days in the hospital, until I was able to stand up and walk on my own. Ryan ended up with four broken ribs, a punctured lung and a stress fracture in his neck.”

Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies said they found multiple toy BB guns in the car but no knife.

Nibbe was charged with two counts of battery/family violence and two counts of simple battery/family violence, while Major was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol — a charge that was later reduced to reckless driving.

Major said she and Nibbe had been drinking alcohol at a party prior to the incident.

According to deputies, Major said before she submitted to a breath test: “I’ll blow. I don’t even care if I get a DUI. I’d rather that than be dead.”