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Crime News Murders

Elderly Pennsylvania Woman Charged With Killing Husband In 1987 Cold Case

Judith Ann Jarvis' murder charge comes 35 years after she told police that blood seen on her pajamas that night was her own — and caused by a goose bite.

By Gina Salamone
Wives Who Brutally Killed

An elderly Pennsylvania woman has been charged with her husband's 1987 murder, more than 35 years after she told police that blood seen on her pajamas that night was her own — and caused by a goose bite.

Judith Ann Jarvis, 76, was charged Tuesday with one court of murder for killing her husband Carl Jarvis on Aug. 10, 1987, court records state. She was denied bail and is currently being held at the Cumberland County Prison.

Pennsylvania State Police announced the arrest in Lancaster County Tuesday, stressing that authorities have been working diligently over nearly four decades to solve the cold case, according to Harrisburg's ABC affiliate WHTM

Carl's body was found the day he died with a gunshot wound to the back of his head, according to police. She had called state troopers just after midnight to tell them that her husband was breaking things, according to WHTM.

When troopers showed up, Judith was outside their home and told them she hadn't been inside since making the phone call. Authorities soon found Carl naked on a bedroom floor with wounds on his head. 

A police handout of Judith Jarvis

Police discovered a revolver on the bed and an autopsy found that he'd died from a gunshot fired at close range to the head from the same gun found. The autopsy also determined that Carl could not have shot himself. 

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During the initial investigation, blood was found on Judith's pajamas that she claimed was hers, and from a goose bite. The garments were taken as evidence. 

In 2020, more than three decades later, police sent Carl's hair and the pajamas to a lab for DNA testing, which showed that the blood found on the clothes belonged to him.

“This new technology led to our ability to bring charges in this 35-year-old case,” Perry County District Attorney Lauren Eichelberger said, according to WHTM. 

She added, "It gives me courage that we will continue to find answers in cases like this, particularly with the use of more advanced technology."

Authorities reached out to Judith in 2021, and she again said that the blood-splattered pajamas were hers, and that she didn't shoot her husband. She claimed that Carl flung a coffee pot at her that missed on the night he died, and that she didn't know her husband was dead when troopers showed up that night.

Court records show that Judith is due back in court on Dec. 23 for a preliminary hearing.

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