Suspect in Roxanne Wood cold case pleads no contest to second-degree murder

Published 11:36 am Friday, March 18, 2022

NILES — The suspect in the 1987 Roxanne Wood murder investigation has pleaded no contest to a reduced charge.

Patrick Wayne Gilham, 67, of South Bend, has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for the 35-year-old cold case investigation, according to a news release from the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office. 

Gilham agreed to a minimum sentence of 23 years in prison.

Gilham was charged on Feb. 16 with open murder and breaking and entering of an occupied dwelling house for the murder. Open murder is punishable by up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Breaking and entering of an occupied dwelling is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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

The case was investigated by the Michigan State Police in collaboration with many outside agencies.

The plea was offered by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office in consultation with Wood’s family.

“The plea bargain was offered with the input of family members, including her husband Terry Wood. This sentence agreement effectively keeps Mr. Gilham in prison for the rest of his life. This plea will allow the family to have some closure and continue to work on healing from this tragic murder,” stated Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Vigansky.

Sentencing for Gilham has been set for Monday, April 25, in the Berrien County Niles Courthouse.