Arrest made in thirty-five year old cold case of Roxanne Leigh Wood

NOW: Arrest made in thirty-five year old cold case of Roxanne Leigh Wood


NILES, Mi. -- A cold case in Niles may finally close after over three decades of being unsolved.

In the early morning of February 20, 1987, Terry Wood found his wife, Roxanne Leigh Wood, dead in their home. 

Niles and Michigan State Police investigators quickly ruled it a homicide, though it eventually ran cold. However, investigators from MSP's Cold Case Team continued to work the case throughout the decades, first reopening it in 2001, and once again in 2020-- and finally announced today that a suspect had been arrested.

"Today, we're here to announce charges being authorized in the 1987 murder of Roxanne Wood," said Berrien County Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli. “Patrick Wayne Gilham, sixty-seven years old of South Bend, Indiana, has been charged by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office with open murder and breaking and entering of an occupied dwelling.”

Police arrested Gilham Thursday, in South Bend, where he is currently waiting to be extradited into Michigan.

More than three decades after the murder, detectives said the investigation only became more difficult. 

Lt. Chuck Christensen with the Michigan State Police said “At a point with a cold case, there becomes a time when witnesses, suspects, people you need to talk to are getting up there in age, and potentially aren’t even around anymore and are deceased.”

But detectives believed they still had a chance. 

“We were hopeful, still, that we could still do something and solve this case," said Christensen. 

And members of Roxanne's family continued to hold out hope that it would be solved-- in particular, her brother Brad Wood. 

“Brad has been in contact with us since 2001," said Christensen. "Every year, and they’ve had to wait a long time, obviously, for this. I wouldn’t say there was a loss of hope, at least by him—he was always hopeful that we would be at this stage. And we are.”

Gilham faces a possible fifteen years if found guilty for breaking and entering, and the possibility of life without parole if found guilty of open murder. 

While investigators hope that Roxanne may finally see justice-- their work isn't over just yet. 

“There’s relief that we have an individual arrested for this," said Christensen. "But I can tell you there’s a lot of investigative work that will continue from this point. Just because an arrest is made, the investigation never stops. There’s always many more things to do, and in this case—we still have many more things to do.”

Authorities say Gilham may also be responsible for other unsolved crimes, and that if anyone has information related to Wood's murder or another crime that may involve Gilham, they are urged to contact the Michigan State Police Niles Post at 269-683-4411. 

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