Patrick Gilham sentenced for 1987 murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood

NOW: Patrick Gilham sentenced for 1987 murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood

NILES, Mich. -- Patrick Wayne Gilham, charged with the 1987 murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood, was sentenced today in Berrien County, bringing the end to a thirty-five-year old cold case.

Gilham was led into a packed courtroom around 9:15am, as Roxanne Wood's surviving friends and family waited for the sentence to be handed down-- nearly four decades after she was stabbed and beaten to death in Niles Township. 

“I’ve devoted much of my adult life to doing whatever it took to get justice for my sister, and the day has finally come for her to have the justice and the peace that she deserves," said Brad Woods, Roxanne's younger brother. 

Wood was found dead in her home on February 20, 1987, by her husband, Terry Wood. The case was quickly ruled a homicide, and though it ran cold, Michigan State Police investigators worked to keep it alive. 

The case was reopened again, first in 2001 and then again in 2020, where it was announced-- just days before the thirty-fifth anniversary of Roxanne's death-- that an arrest had been made.

“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," announced Berrien County Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli at a press conference on February 18, 2022.

Gilham had been previously arrested in Gary, IN in 1980-- after breaking into a home and attacking Maureen Farag, who ultimately survived-- and served seven years in prison-- half his original sentence. 

Gilham killed Roxanne Woods just six months after his release. 

Maureen's husband, Robert Farag, came to the sentencing to support Wood's family. 

“I just hope he doesn’t see the light of day," Farag said. "He doesn’t deserve it.”

Lt. Chuck Christensen and investigators with MSP's cold case team were finally able to link Gilham to the crime using DNA evidence:

“We ended up getting a surreptitious DNA sample, which ultimately led to a match with Patrick Gilham," Lt. Christensen said. "We knew he was a smoker, and we were able to surveil him and obtain a cigarette butt. New technology with forensic genealogy is just unbelievable that we are here where we are now.”

Gilham pleaded no contest to the murder. 

Wood's surviving family members spoke during the hearing-- characterizing Gilham as a predator-- and said his actions have haunted their family for decades. 

“His actions gave all of us a life sentence, while he got to live most of his as a free man," said Roxanne's younger sister Janet Wood. "But by the grace of God and the right detectives and modern technology, he was found, and we are here today to see him finally pay something for what he’s done—which is likely the rest of his life in a cage, like the violent animal that he is.”

“I can assure you my voice will be heard if there is ever an option for him to be released early for doing this to her," Brad Woods added. "He is a monster that should never be allowed to walk the streets where my wife, my daughters and my granddaughters walk free.”

After Roxanne's siblings spoke, Gilham was able to address the court, where he expressed remorse.

“I’m very sorry, I can’t believe I did what I did," Gilham said tearfully. "I pray for them every night, I am so sorry. I just hope that some time, in the future with God’s help, that they can start to forgive me. And to my family that I’m sorry I disgraced, I’m so sorry.”

Gilham was sentenced to a minimum of twenty-three years in prison, and a maximum of fifty years.

He is currently sixty-seven years old, and will be ninety by the time he serves the minimum of his sentence, meaning he will likely spend the rest of his life in jail for Roxanne Wood's murder. 

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