COLD CASE: John Elmer Woodards

Fugitive John Elmer Woodards was convicted of 1st Degree Murder and 1st Degree Rape of an 85 year-old female in Columbia Station, OH on January 31, 1964. 

Fugitive John Elmer Woodards was convicted of 1st Degree Murder and 1st Degree Rape of an 85 year-old female in Columbia Station, OH on January 31, 1964.

The autopsy of the victim showed that all of her ribs had been broken, her spleen ruptured and her vaginal wall was torn after being raped with a blunt instrument.

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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.

Woodards was initially sentenced to death for this crime.

Due to trial errors, Woodards death sentence was over-turned and was subsequently convicted of 2nd Degree murder and later given parole.

Woodards requested that 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 by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, Cold Case Unit, adopted this case in May of 2015 upon request from the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.

Deputy Marshals and Task Force Officers from the Ohio Adult Parole Authority 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.

“Woodards lived without living,” said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. “Working under the table and living off of another unknowing vicitm’s kindness is the only way this fugitive stayed afloat.”

Woodards built a new life of lies in a rural community in Delta, PA, surrounding himself with good citizens who never knew his horrible past.

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Upon his death in February 2011, a memorial service was held and the memoriam constructed his fake past 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.