Cold case arrest: South Bend man arrested in 35-year-old murder of Roxanne Wood

Published 3:22 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

NILES — A South Bend man has been arrested and charged with the open murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood, according to Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Pieriangeli.

Pieriangeli and MSP First Detective Sergeant Chuck Christensen announced that Patrick Wayne Gilham, 67, of South Bend, has been arrested and charged by Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office with open murder and breaking entering of an occupied dwelling Friday afternoon at the Niles Law Enforcement Complex, 1600 Silverbrook Ave.

The 1987 open murder is punishable by up to life in prison without the possibility of parole and the breaking entering charge is punishable up to 15 years in prison.

Gilham was arrested Thursday at a residence by the South Bend Police Department on an extraditable warrant issued by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office. Christensen said Wood’s family was notified of the arrest.

Per Pieriangeli, there are no court dates for Gilham at this time.

“We would like to once again express our sympathy to Roxanne’s family and her husband, Terry Wood,” Christensen said.

On Feb. 20, 1987, Roxanne and her husband, Terry, spent the night out at the former H.I.’s Old Towne Saloon in downtown Niles — now home of The Rage — and later went to Whites’ Bowling Lanes, which has since been razed, but was located near the current site of Martin’s Supermarket.

According to the original police report, Roxanne left for home before her husband. When Terry arrived at the home on Tam-O-Shanter Drive in Niles Township around 1 a.m., he reportedly found his wife dead on the floor. Roxanne had apparently been hit on the head with a frying pan, and her throat was cut.

Although divers spent hours searching nearby Brandywine Creek for the murder weapon, it was never found. However, a sheath for a knife was located near Roxanne’s body.

According to prosecutor Pierangeli, the new charges stem from allegations that Gilham forcefully entered Wood’s home. Once inside, Gilham encountered Wood and murdered her in the home before Terry arrived and discovered the body.

Pieriangeli was unable to provide any further details about the case “due to the protection of the case and the protection of Gilham and his rights.”

The case has been investigated extensively and continuously by the MSP since it began, most recently by Detective Sergeants John Moore and Jason Bailey of the MSP Special Investigation Section beginning in August 2020.

Moore and Bailey reviewed 3,347 pages of information consisting of additional interviews, evidentiary reviews, surveillance operations and utilized the coordination of different resources within the Michigan State Police and coordinating agencies.

Assisting in the investigation were MSP 5th District Undercover Fugitive Team, the MSP Technical Services Unit and the South Bend Police Department.