Dangerous fugitive's death ends cold case - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Dangerous fugitive's death ends cold case

Fugitive John Elmer Woodards (Source: US Marshal's) Fugitive John Elmer Woodards (Source: US Marshal's)
COLUMBIA STATION, OH (WOIO) -

The US Marshal's Service and Adult Parole Authority announce the closure of one of Ohio’s most violent fugitive warrants. The cold case unit pieced together Fugitive John Elmer Woodards died four years ago in Pennsylvania. 

Woodards was convicted of murder and rape in Columbia Station, OH on January 31, 1964. He served his time and was later involved in a hit and run. The cold case unit pieced together Woodards died four years ago in Pennsylvania. 

The autopsy of the 85-year-old victim showed all of her ribs had been broken, her spleen ruptured and internal injuries after being raped with a blunt instrument. The victim also suffered from injuries to her head, left forearm and right hand.

Woodards confessed to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office while walking them through the horrible incident at the crime scene. He was initially sentenced to death for this crime but due to trial errors, Woodards' death sentence was overturned and he was convicted of second degree murder and later given parole. Woodards requested his parole be transferred from Ohio to North Carolina, which was granted. On September 14, 1983, Woodards was declared a violator at large after being involved in an alcohol related hit and run accident and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Marshals and Task Force Officers tracked Woodards from Ohio to North Carolina to Virginia to Florida to Maryland and finally to Delta, Pennsylvania spanning from 1983 until he passed away on February 17, 2011. 

The fugitive investigation revealed that John Elmer Woodards assumed the alias “Billie Jack” or “BJ” Woodards and lived with an unknowing “Life Partner” for over 26 years, never marrying her due to his criminal past.

He built a new life under his new identity in a rural community in Delta, PA, surrounding himself with trusting citizens who never knew his dismal past. Upon his death in February 2011, a memorial service described his fabricated past stating that he was a former U.S. Marine who boxed semi-professionally and that he later attended college earning two associate degrees, all of which were unfounded.   

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