- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

COLUMBIA STATION, Ohio (AP) - Federal officials have determined a parolee who’d been convicted of murder in Ohio and violated probation in 1983 lived under an assumed identity in Pennsylvania for 26 years and died in 2011.

Investigators say John Elmer Woodards was known as Billie Jack Woodard or BJ Woodard during the decades he lived in rural Delta, Pennsylvania, the Northeast Ohio Media Group (https://bit.ly/1IbqQbd ) reported.

In July 1963, Woodards raped and killed an 85-year-old woman who was found dead in her home in Columbia Station, southwest of Cleveland. He confessed the crime to Lorain County Sheriff detectives.

Woodards rented the upstairs apartment at the victim’s home and testified during his trial that he had a sexual relationship with the woman.

Initially, the case was thrown out by a federal judge after several potential jurors objected to the death penalty and Woodards appeared in court handcuffed while wearing prison attire.

The case was sent back to common pleas court, where Woodards was convicted of murder. He was granted parole in 1980, but violated its terms when he was involved in a 1983 drunken hit-and-run crash in North Carolina.

A warrant was issued for Woodards’ arrest, but he was never apprehended.

The U.S. Marshals Cold Case Unit recently tracked his movement through several states and eventually to Pennsylvania, where they discovered he died years ago.

BJ Woodard’s obituary said he was a former U.S. Marine and boxer who had two degrees. The marshals say those are lies.

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

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Information from: Northeast Ohio Media Group, https://www.cleveland.com

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