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Thursday, September 21, 2006

WANTED: John “Woody” Woodring for Murder. Considered Armed and Dangerous.

"Looking at going nationwide with this"

by Jordan Schrader and Jon Ostendorff, STAFF WRITERS
updated September 21, 2006 6:45 pm

PDF Wanted Poster Available Here.

SYLVA – Investigators in the murder of 48-year-old Bonnie Woodring on Thursday searched her husband’s car and planned to send a computer found inside to North Carolina’s state crime lab.

Police in at least six states were on the lookout for John “Woody” Woodring and Sylva Police Chief Jeff Jamison, whose department is heading the murder investigation, said the search could go nationwide.

“We are perhaps looking at going nationwide with this,” he said. “There is some discussion about contacting America’s Most wanted.”

Even as authorities continued their search, new details about Woodring’s strange life emerged.

According to court documents in Jackson County, Woodring was married to another woman when he married Bonnie Woodring.

Court records show he listed Bonnie Woodring a his wife on a land deed filed Sept. 8, 2005 but did not officially divorce a woman he had been married to until Nov. 21 of that year.

Woodring may have married Bonnie Woodring in another state. Their marriage license is not on file in Jackson County. The Jackson County records and records from the Cherokee Tribal Court show Woodring has been married four times in Western North Carolina since 1992.

Police impounded the black Corvette they searched Thursday three days before they believe Woodring shouldered his way into a Sylva shelter for abused women and killed his wife with shotgun blast.

Jamison said waited three days after the shooting to searching the car because his officers needed technical help from the State Bureau of Investigation.

Six officers spent the day on all-terrain vehicles searching a remote part of Jackson County for Woodring, the chief said. He would not say where the investigators are searching.

Woodring has been on the run since Monday.

Jamison called the search locally “painstaking.”

“As we exhaust leads in the area we have to start to expand our search,” he said.

At least 10 law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas and Pennsylvania have joined in the manhunt, the chief said.

Some of those officers are involved in on-the-ground searches, Jamison said, although he said homes have not been searched in other states.

An SBI plane and State Highway Patrol helicopters searched from the air Tuesday and Wednesday.

Family members of Bonnie Woodring live in the Houston area.

Woody Woodring has family in Maryland and in Altoona, Pennsylvania, according to the SBI.

The FBI’s Asheville office said it’s not involved in the hunt, but Jamison said National Park Service rangers and other, unnamed federal agencies have joined in.

In addition to those tracking down leads, other officers were asked to be on the lookout for Woodring.

A description of the man went to every highway patrolman in North Carolina, patrol Lt. David McCoy said, as well as to the state patrols in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Experts say to get all of those departments focused on one man is difficult.

“It’s a nightmare, I can tell you,” said Bill Hyatt, a former U.S. prosecutor, who worked in the witness protection program, and taught criminology at Western Carolina University.

A small agency still has its usual assignments and patrols that don’t go away during a manhunt, Hyatt said.

The best bet in the investigation is to narrow the suspect’s trail, Hyatt said.

“Everybody’s got places he’s got to go to,” he said. “Does he have family or friends in the area. Is he headed to Atlanta or Charlotte or Knoxville, trying to lose himself in a bigger city?”

Investigators will likely monitor his bank account for any withdrawals or follow any trail of his credit cards being used, Hyatt said.

In the end, “it’s not easy to evade a manhunt,” he said. “It’s hard not to contact your friends. In the witness protection program, we always had problems with people who wanted to call home when the point was to disappear.”

Staff Writer Dale Neal contributed to this report.
Contact Jordan Schrader via e-mail at

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