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"48 Hours" to feature murder case of Michigan woman solved 35 years later

(CBS DETROIT) - In February 1987, Roxanne Wood was found dead inside her Niles Township home. Thirty-five years later, a man identified as the killer was sentenced to at least 23 years, according to Michigan State Police.

This weekend, "48 Hours" will feature Wood's case. The segment, titled "The 'Unsolvable' Murder of Roxanne Wood" will air on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 10/9c on CBS and streaming Paramount+.

MSP began investigating the case after Wood was found by her husband Terry Wood. Investigators attempted to solve the case with evidence that was collected at the scene; however, technology at the time was limited.

Decades later, police identified 67-year-old Patrick Gilham, of South Bend, Indiana, as the potential suspect with the help of genealogist Gabriella Vargas, who worked as a consultant for Identifinders International LLC.

In 2020, MSP partnered with Western Michigan University through the Cold Case Program, which was made up of a group of college students and director Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten to provide organizational and information support. At the same time, Indentifinders International LLC was hired to examine the forensic data. After 10 months of the company coming up empty-handed, Vargas offered to help. 

She told "48 Hours" that her motivation to work fast was Roxanne Wood's family, and the work done by the WMU students helped move the case along.

"The first thing that I did was I request access to the case file," Vargas said. "It was very easy to read through quite quickly due to the work of the students."

A genetic profile and family tree were generated, and police were able to identify Gilham as a potential suspect.

Investigators surveilled him, and DNA from a discarded cigarette butt matched the DNA to the evidence from the case. Gilham was arrested and interviewed.

In March 2022, he pleaded no contest and agreed to the minimum 23-year sentence.

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