Identifinders International in conjunction with the Michigan State Police, Niles Post, is pleased to announce the identification of 67-year-old Patrick Wayne Gilham for the 1987 murder of 30-year-old Roxanne Leigh Wood. Gilham has pleaded No Contest to Second Degree Murder and agreed to a minimum sentence of 23 years in prison. The case represents a landmark in the use of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) as the decades-old DNA sample used to identify Roxanne’s assailant was very low level and highly degraded, representing the contents of only a few cells of his body.

An undated photo of Roxanne Wood courtesy family.

Mrs. Wood, was found murdered in the kitchen of her home in Niles Township, Berrien County, MI, by her husband Terry Wood, on February 20, 1987. She had been stabbed numerous times and raped. The murder weapon was never located.  Numerous leads were followed but no CODIS hit was achieved, and the case went cold. 

The Wood homicide was considered high risk for FGG considering that the only DNA sample available consisted of two tubes of dried blood. The original amount of DNA was unknown, and the condition of the sample was shown to be highly degraded, leading to major processing complications that took months to resolve.

“This case was the toughest technical challenges we have faced, but it shows that we should never give up hope,” said Colleen Fitzpatrick, President of Identifinders.  “We are grateful to the Michigan State Police for having faith in us for the careful decision making it took to process the DNA and solve the case”.

“Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication. This case would have gone unsolved forever. There’s no way we could have done this without you.”, Detective Sergeant John Moore said of Identifinders.

Identifinders would like to thank former independent contractor Gabriella Vargas for her hard work on this case.

About Identifinders International:

Identifinders International is an award-winning pioneer in the application of forensic genetic genealogy Y-DNA and autosomal SNP analysis to cold case homicides, sexual assaults, and Unidentified Doe cases.