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Suspect in Niles Twp. cold case pleads no contest to second-degree murder

Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 11:16 AM EDT
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - A South Bend man has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for the 1987 murder of Roxanne Wood.

Patrick Wayne Gilham, 67, agreed to a minimum sentence of 23 years in prison. Gilham was charged back in February with Open Murder and Breaking and Entering of an Occupied Dwelling House for the murder.

The charges stem from allegations Gilham forcibly entered Wood’s home on Feb. 20, 1987, in Niles Township. Once inside, officials say Gilham encountered Wood and killed her. Her husband, Terry Wood, arrived home shortly after, discovered the body, and contacted the police. Wood was 30 at the time of the offense.

The plea was offered by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office in consultation with Wood’s family. Sentencing for Gilham has been set for April 25 in the Berrien County Niles Courthouse.

Press Release from Michigan State Police:

Patrick Wayne Gilham, 67, of South Bend, Indiana has pleaded no contest to Second Degree Murder for the 1987 murder of Roxanne Wood. Gilham agreed to a minimum sentence of 23 years in prison.

The Michigan State police Niles Post began this murder investigation on February 20, 1987, in Niles Township, MI. On this date, Roxanne Wood was found murdered in her home by her husband Terry Wood. Through the years, the case has remained an active investigation by the Michigan State Police (MSP) Fifth District Cold Case Team and for the last year and a half, MSP detective sergeants John Moore, and Jason Bailey of the Niles Post.

Patrick Gilham was identified as a potential suspect in this homicide from original evidence left at the scene that was examined forensically between Identifinders International LLC and the MSP Forensic Laboratory in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

After being identified as a possible suspect, Gilham had been surveilled extensively by MSP undercover units and interviewed on two separate occasions by detective sergeants Moore, Bailey, and Kyle Gorham, culminating in his arrest for open murder in South Bend, Indiana on an arrest warrant issued by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office.

The MSP Fifth District Headquarters and Western Michigan University partnered and collaborated on this case through the universities’ Cold Case Program. This program provided organizational and informational support made up of college students and its director, Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten. This was the first case in which the two entities formed the collaborative effort.

This investigation encompassed over 10,000 hours of investigative work by the MSP and its Special Investigation Section. Additional, significant support was provided in this case by the MSP Fifth District Fugitive Team, Technical Services Unit, and the South Bend Police Department’s patrol and investigative bureau.

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