Penthouse Pet Judi Gibbs died in a mysterious house fire in 1986 amid rumors she was having an affair with Bill Clinton
- She died of smoke inhalation when she was 32, alongside her her long-time beau, 57-year-old Bill Puterbaugh outside Fordyce, Arkansas
- ‘I have always been convinced that Bill Clinton was responsible for the fire, but I have no proof,’ Gibbs’ older sister Martha tells DailyMail.com
- Clinton would ask Gibbs to fly from the tiny airport opposite Puterbaugh’s house into Little Rock where he would take her to a hotel
- But when Gibbs’ brother-in-law, Dale Bliss, was arrested for child rape, Bliss’s house was raided by police and the affair came to and end
- It’s rumored that a photo was discovered during the raid that Bliss had secretly taken of Clinton with Judi Gibbs
- Gibbs’ and Puterbaugh’s family believe the fire was started deliberately
As more and more women line up to tell their stories about sex with Bill Clinton – both consensual and forced – there is one who is unable to relive the details of her alleged affair.
And even now, 30 years after she died alongside her much-older other lover, doubts remain about how and why Gibbs and her long-time beau Bill Puterbaugh met their grizzly deaths.
But now DailyMail.com has pieced together the life and death of Judi Gibbs, telling for the first time how the auburn-haired woman from a pin-prick of an Arkansas town managed to bed the man who went on to be one of the most powerful men in the world.
Local fire chief Roy Wayne Moseley has no explanation as to why the lovers did not manage to get out of the house.
‘The only reason I can think why they didn’t is they were overrun with smoke so quick and so fast,’ he said.
‘It was a real tragedy. As far as residential fires go, that was the worst we’ve had,’ added Moseley, now 80 and still chief of the Fordyce Volunteer Fire Department – a post he has held since 1960.
Many people around the Clintons have died in unusual circumstances over the years, leading conspiracy theorists to claim they could be connected.
As DailyMail.com reported earlier this year, five deaths in a six-week span between June 22 and August 2 this year had connections to the former first family.
‘I’m not saying the Clintons kill people. I’m saying a lot of people around the Clintons turn up dead,’ Larry Nichols, who worked with the former First Family before turning against them, told DailyMail.com.
And the names of Judi Gibbs and her lover Bill Puterbaugh could be added to that list.
Gibbs was the sixth of seven children born to a hardscrabble family in Sims, a two-hour drive west of Little Rock.
In her teens she was lured into prostitution by her brother-in-law Dale Bliss, who is now 85 and 32 years into a life prison sentence for child rape.
Martha Gibbs said she had to go to rescue Gibbs from Bliss’s clutches.
‘She was 17 or 18 at the time. She went straight back to prostitution,’ Martha said.
Bliss, who was married to Sharon Gibbs – Martha and Judi’s sister – would send his girls to Oaklawn Racetrack in Hot Springs hoping to pick up wealthy men. It was there that Gibbs met Puterbaugh.
Gibbs had dreams of making it big in Hollywood and starred in the cult car crash movie The Junkman. She did some modeling, traveling to England and Ireland for shoots for Datsun cars.
In her Penthouse spread she said she hated exercise, likening herself to a lazy grasshopper.
‘The only physical exertion that really appeals to me is between the sheets,’ she said. ‘And even then I do a lot of lying around.’
But as she passed 30, her life goals changed.
‘By this time, Gibbs’ ambition was to marry Bill Puterbaugh and settle down,’ said her sister.
Puterbaugh was a larger-than-life character. He adored big game hunting. Around 1965 he and a friend flew up to Alaska and then took a small plane, flying under the radar into Siberia where they each shot and killed a polar bear.
Bill turned his into a rug, his friend’s was stuffed and mounted, which, to this day, is on display in the Dallas County Museum in Fordyce.
‘I dread to think what would have happened if they had been caught flying into the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War,’ said Randy.
‘My dad was a successful businessman and he liked the ladies, no question about that. Judi was stunningly beautiful, very photogenic, very, very buxom with red hair but she wasn’t real bright.
‘He got Judi into a lot of modeling jobs and made contact with Penthouse and sure enough she got to be a Penthouse pet – runner-up as Pet of the Year in 1979 as I remember,’ added Randy, who was eight months older than his father’s girlfriend.
‘She went off to California and made her movie, but she was a country girl at heart and wanted to move back to Arkansas.
‘I think she really loved my dad, but he was a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, I’m not sure he could ever love any one woman. But he kept Judi around for a long time.
‘He knew all about her past. She was pretty much a high-price call girl, but he never pimped her out.’
However, Bill Puterbaugh also knew how politics in Arkansas’s state capital worked, and he knew that Judi Gibbs was a major asset.
‘He liked to rub shoulders with politicians and the big people in Little Rock,’ said Randy. ‘He knew that people did other people favors, especially politicians, that’s just the way it used to be.
‘And Judi didn’t object. He played the favor game to be part of the crowd and she was a hot commodity.’
One of those politicians was the rapidly rising Bill Clinton, at the time Arkansas’ attorney general.
He started calling for Gibbs asking her to fly from the tiny airport opposite Puterbaugh’s house into Little Rock where he would take her to hotel rooms, said Martha Gibbs.
‘Bill Puterbaugh knew she was seeing Bill Clinton, and he was okay with that,’ Martha, now 71, added. ‘Judi told me what she was doing with Bill Clinton a few times.
‘I told her just keep away from him. I liked Bill Puterbaugh and I wanted her to stay with him. She was living with him and he was looking after her.
‘She didn’t give me any great detail, just that they would go to a hotel. I would always say stay away from him.
‘Sometimes he would have her picked up in a car and sometimes she would fly from that little airport in Fordyce. She never ever mentioned Hillary.’
The alleged affair with Bill Clinton could have gone on for years if it wasn’t for Dale Bliss.
Gibbs learned that he was molesting an eight-year-old boy and told Puterbaugh who insisted she should go to the police and drop the dime on her sister’s husband.
That decision opened a whole can of worms.
Bliss was said to have a secret window in his home in Glenwood, Arkansas, where he would take pictures of his girls having sex with some of the state’s most powerful men.
No-one will say for certain that Bill Clinton was caught on camera with Judi Gibbs, but everyone has heard the rumor.
‘All I know is that state police raided that house and confiscated everything – and I mean everything,’ said Randy Puterbaugh. ‘None of it has ever been seen since.’
And he would know. He spent weeks trying to find all the intricacies of his father’s death, even filing Freedom of Information requests that came up empty.
He knew that Bliss had threatened to have Gibbs killed for reporting him to police, but neither he nor Martha Gibbs believe Bliss was the man behind the fire.
‘He had nothing to do with it,’ said Martha. ‘Dale Bliss is a piece of trash, but he didn’t have the money to hire anyone.’
Randy Puterbaugh, 63, is convinced the blaze was started deliberately. He says one chilling discovery in the ashes made up his mind.
It’s rumored that a photo was discovered during the raid that Bliss had secretly taken of Clinton with Judi Gibbs.
Gibbs’ sister and Puterbaugh’s son believe the fire that killed their family members was started deliberately.
‘There was a little bedroom that Judi had converted into a sewing room – she loved sewing. It was the only room that wasn’t completely destroyed,’ he said.
After the fire, which was huge news in Fordyce, people trekked to the house and looted anything they could find.
At the time Randy did not want to see the place where his father had lost his life, so sent a friend down to see what he could rescue.
‘In the sewing room, my friend found a cassette recorder, lying face down with a tape still in there,’ Randy said.
Inside the recorder was the Culture Club album Waking Up With The House On Fire.
‘I know that wasn’t theirs. My father listened to the classics – Sinatra, Streisand, that sort of thing. He would never have heard of Boy George,’ Randy said. ‘Judi might have heard of him, but she certainly didn’t listen to him.
‘It was like the cassette recorder had just been thrown in there. It’s another thing that’s suspicious.’
The fire started near the front of the 3,800square-foot house. It could have been the kitchen or it could have been the game room where Bill Puterbaugh had animal heads including a grizzly bear he had shot in British Columbia, an elk, a moose and other creatures mounted on the wall.
Randy and Martha used the exact same words to describe the room: ‘All those animals gave me the creeps,’ they both said in independent interviews.
And perhaps with good reason. The taxidermy, along with the polar bearskin rug from Siberia, added fuel to the fire that killed Martha’s sister and Randy’s father.
The blaze must have taken time to reach the bedroom which was at the back of the house. The noise should have woken the couple, both Martha and Randy said.
‘Judi had a little dog – a Yorkshire terrier I think – and he was tied to his dog bed, but he dragged that all the way to the bedroom door,’ said Randy Puterbaugh. ‘She also had a cockatoo and that would have been squawking.
‘Things would have been falling off the walls. There had to be enough of a racket that they would have heard it. The fire traveled a long way from the front of the house to the back.’
‘There were windows everywhere in that bedroom,’ he added. ‘There were no bars on them and there was a door that led out the back, but for whatever reason neither my father or Judi made it out.’
Fire chief Moseley agrees the inferno had to be burning for some time before it reached the bedroom.
‘It had some burn time, it really did,’ he said. ‘When we got there, I didn’t expect to find them dead as she had been able to call in.
‘It was just a whole shock for this town for something like that to happen here.’
Autopsies said Gibbs had only an antihistamine in her system and Bill was drug free, yet neither Randy Puterbaugh nor Martha Gibbs believe that.
They both say Gibbs was a heavy drinker, downing several Crown Royal Canadian whiskies a day and was bound to have had some alcohol in her bloodstream.
Puterbaugh didn’t drink so much, but always had two Crown Royals every afternoon, his son said.
And a few weeks before his death, he had traveled to Pittsburgh for cochlear implant surgery – a revolutionary new procedure at the time – and would have been taking medication.
After the fire, Randy Puterbaugh received a letter of condolence from Bill Clinton.
Martha Gibbs decided she had to confront the man who went on to the White House.
She thought she had a chance when he came to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to give a speech at the Royale Vista Inn.
‘It was about six weeks after the fire, I think, and I went up to Clinton at the start and I said, “My name’s Martha Gibbs, I am…” and before I could get it out, he said, “You’re Judi’s sister”.
‘I told him I needed to speak to him and he said he couldn’t because he had to get up and make his speech, so afterwards I kept going up to him and he kept moving, always a few steps ahead of me with people around him.
‘He knew I wanted to speak to him, but he made sure I couldn’t.’
Randy Puterbaugh has met Bill Clinton since. He remembers one occasion when Clinton came to Fordyce for the annual Cotton Belt Festival.
‘I was driving his float and I felt a tap on my shoulder,’ he said.
He added: ‘We passed the florist’s shop downtown and he tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Randy, who’s that blonde standing in the doorway?” I looked and there was this stunning looking woman and I said: “I don’t know”.
‘He said: “Well, can you find out?” You talk about a hound dog.’