Patrick Wayne Gilham, a 67-year-old Indiana man, was arrested in connection with a decades-old cold case last week. 

Authorities said Gilham is charged with the murder of 30-year-old Roxanne Leigh Wood, who was found dead in her Michigan home in 1987 — almost 35 years to the day before her alleged murderer was taken into custody. 

Police did not detail the evidence that led them to charge the 67-year-old suspect with Wood’s slaying, citing the ongoing criminal investigation, though they did say that “new technology” played a role. 

According to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office in Michigan, Gilham was booked on one count of open murder and another count of breaking and entering of an occupied dwelling. If convicted of the homicide charge, he could face life behind bars under state law.  

What Happened to Roxanne Leigh Wood? 

According to media sources, Roxanne Leigh Wood lived with her husband Terry in Niles Township, Michigan, just a few miles north of South Bend across the state border with Indiana. 

On Feb. 20, 1987, the Woods enjoyed a night of bowling. They reportedly drove to the bowling alley separately, and Roxanne was the first to leave the venue. 

When Terry returned home a short while later, he found Roxanne lying unresponsive on the kitchen floor, bleeding badly with her throat slashed. Emergency personnel arrived and declared her dead at the scene. 

Roxanne Leigh Wood was killed in 1987. Now, Patrick Wayne Gilham is charged with her murder.
Roxanne Leigh Wood was killed in 1987. Now, Patrick Wayne Gilham is charged with her murder. Photo credit: Michigan State Police

Investigators quickly got to work trying to unravel the mystery of the 30-year-old’s tragic and violent death, as DNA and other genetic evidence was uncovered from the home.

A shortlist of possible suspects was drawn up, including the victim’s husband Terry. But detectives hit a will when none of the proposed perps’ DNA matched the samples collected at the crime scene. 

With no more leads to pursue, Wood’s case languished for over a decade. 

Evidence Leads to Patrick Wayne Gilham 

In 2001, homicide investigators with the Michigan State Police’s Fifth District Cold Case Team reopened the probe. 

The detectives spent years sifting through 3,347 pages of police reports, witness statements and physical evidence gathered during the initial investigation. But that effort, too, led nowhere. It wasn’t until 2020, when the case was opened for a third time, that authorities made progress in the decades-old cold case. 

Last Thursday, police in South Bend, Indiana arrested 67-year-old Patrick Wayne Gilham for Wood’s murder. He is expected to face extradition across the border to Michigan sometime in coming weeks. 

This 1980s photo shows Patrick Wayne Gilham around the time when he's suspected of killing Roxanne Leigh Wood.
This undated photo, circa 1980s, shows Patrick Wayne Gilham around the time when he’s suspected of killing Roxanne Leigh Wood. Photo credit: Michigan State Police

It’s not clear if he was previously considered a suspect, or if he knew Roxanne and/or Terry Wood socially. No motive is apparent, either. 

Police would not say exactly how they tied Gilham to the unsolved killing, citing the ongoing criminal case. They did, however, reveal that “new technology” played a role in the investigative breakthrough, and it’s possible this relates to the DNA evidence gathered from the scene 35 years ago. 

“There’s relief that we have an individual arrested for this, but I can tell you there’s a lot of investigative work that will continue from this point,” said Lt. Chuck Christensen with the Michigan State Police.

Christensen also said that he’d spoken with Terry and other surviving family members after Gilham’s arrest was announced last Thursday. 

“He was happy and thankful that his breakthrough has been made,” the lieutenant said. “Additionally, he expressed relief after this Sunday will be 35 years since this had happened. He’s processing that as well as the rest of her family.”

Patrick Wayne Gilham, 67, is charged with the 1987 murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood.
Patrick Wayne Gilham, 67, is charged with the 1987 murder of Roxanne Leigh Wood. Photo credit: South Bend Police