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Convicted murderer hides out in York County for 30 years

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DELTA, Pa. — A man who was convicted of raping and murdering an 85-year-old woman managed to hide from police for nearly three decades in York County, investigators said Tuesday.

The U.S. Marshal’s Office says it recently learned John Elmer Woodards was living in Delta under the name of his deceased brother.

In 1964, Woodards was convicted of rape and murder in Columbia Station, Ohio. Woodards confessed to the crimes and gave details of incident to investigators, the Marshal’s Office says.

Though he was sentenced to death, that sentence was later overturned “due to trial errors,” the Marshal’s Office says.

He was later given parole and requested it be transferred from Ohio to North Carolina.

In 1983, a warrant for his arrest was issued after he was involved in an alcohol-related hit and run.

However, police were never able to track him down.

Earlier this month, investigators received a tip and determined Woodards had assumed the identity of his deceased brother and had spent nearly three decades hiding from police in York County. Woodards had been living under the name “BJ” and died in 2011, investigators learned this month.

“It is vitally important fugitives are caught and held accountable for their actions or, as in this case, we bring proper closure on investigations where fugitives are deceased,” said U.S. Marshal Martin Pane in a statement.

In his obituary, it says Woodards worked in home improvement, was a grand master in chess and loved to play Scrabble and solve crosswords. It also says he was survived by his life partner of 26 years, Anne Rose.