A suspect who was arrested in February for the cold case murder of a Niles, Michigan woman has accepted a plea deal in the case.

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In February, Michigan State Police announced the arrest of an Indiana man believed to have murdered 30-year-old Roxanne Wood in 1987. According to a release from Michigan State Police (MSP), Patrick Wayne Gilham pleaded no contest to Second Degree Murder for the 1987 murder of Roxanne Wood. Gilham's plea deal will guarantee he serves a minimum sentence of 23 years in prison.

On the 35th anniversary of the grisly murder, MSP announced the arrest of Gilham who is now 67-years-old and had been living in South Bend, Indiana. Investigators say he was identified as the suspect through DNA left behind at the 1987 crime scene and with the help of an investigative genetic genealogist.

After being identified as a possible suspect, investigators conducted extensive surveillance on Gilham who was interviewed on two separate occasions by two Detective Sergeants with the MSP. The latest efforts culminated in Gilham's arrest for open murder in South Bend, Indiana on an arrest warrant issued by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office.

The case was solved through a partnership with the MSP Fifth District Headquarters and Western Michigan University through the universities’ Cold Case Program. This was the first case in which the two entities formed a collaborative effort.

Over 10,000 hours were spent by MSP investigators on solving Roxanne's murder.

In solving the case investigators were able to clear Roxanne's husband (Terry) of any involvement. Terry was the one who found his wife's body after returning from an area bowling alley in the overnight hours. He had long been believed to be responsible for his wife's death.

Roxanne had been stabbed to death in her home. She had been hit over the head with a frying pan and her throat had been slashed. Investigators believe that Roxanne and Gilham had likely never crossed paths before that fateful evening. Gilham lived just 4 miles away from the Wood home.

Courtesy of the Michigan State Police
Courtesy of the Michigan State Police
Courtesy of the Michigan State Police
Courtesy of the Michigan State Police

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