South Bend man arraigned in 35-year-old murder of Roxanne Wood

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, February 24, 2022

ST. JOSEPH — The “smoking gun” in a 35-year-old murder investigation was in fact a smoking cigarette.

A publicly discarded cigarette butt led to the arrest of 67-year-old Patrick Wayne Gilham of South Bend, who was formally charged by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office Tuesday with the open murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood and breaking entering of an occupied dwelling, pleading not guilty to both.

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’s bond was set at $500,000 or cash surety along with a GPS tether, with a pre-exam conference scheduled for March 2. In accordance with the ruling, Gilham must live in Michigan for the duration of the court process and remain in residence 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.

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 Berrien County court documents, 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. 

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.

Court documents state that during the autopsy, a sexual assault kit was completed and a male DNA profile was developed from that evidence and placed into the Combined DNA Index Systern in 1999. In February 2021, investigators received information from “a credible and reliable source” that Gilham should be looked at as the possible contributing source of the unknown male DNA profile, with research into Gilham revealing he lived in the Michiana area during the time of the homicide. 

On June 3, 2021, a DNA source from Gilham was obtained in the form of a publicly discarded cigarette butt, which was then taken to the Michigan State Police Laboratory for comparison to the unknown DNA profile. Later that month, the lab matched the DNA from Gilham’s cigarette butt to the DNA found at the scene of the crime.

Investigators then interviewed Gilham in late July 2021.Gilham, who was on parole when Wood was murdered, said he didn’t go to Michigan except for work, that he did not have any friends or girlfriends in Niles and did not know where Tam-O-Shanter Lane was. 

The court document states that Gilham claimed to not know who Wood was after being shown photos of her by investigators. But when they told him that she had been attacked, Gilham’s breath quickened and his hands began to shake before asking for a lawyer.

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.