The documentary ‘A Time to Kill: Highway to Hell’ on Investigation Discovery tells the story of Joseph Wilder, who tragically perished in August 1998 while travelling back to his home in Douglas County, Georgia. The case eventually went cold for more than 17 years despite the fact that the authorities questioned a number of suspects. But in 2015, a witness who knew the killer’s identity came forward, giving the police a breakthrough. Here is what we know about the case, including who the perpetrator is and where they are right now.
How Did Joseph Wilder Die?
According to Lieutenant Ken Aycock of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, “Douglas County, Georgia, was a community of working-class people in 1998 who went to work every day, just living their lives,” he said on the programme. We had a large population of folks who lived in the country but worked in Atlanta due to our location outside of the city. Therefore, it came as a shock to this peaceful and little county when, at around 10 p.m. on August 7, 1998, the authorities received an urgent disturbing 911 call from a motorist reporting seeing a gunfight on I-20 close to a weigh station in Lithia Springs.
The driver’s side window of a maroon Ford Explorer was shot out and lying in a side road as the emergency personnel arrived on the scene. The car had a lot of blood inside, and the driver was slouched behind the wheel. The man had been shot multiple times, and the police discovered his identity in his wallet. Joseph “Jody” Henry Wilder, a local builder who had lived and worked in the area for more than three decades, was recognised as the deceased person.
The episode described Jody Wilder as a general contractor who performed home renovations and handyman services. He was praised for being an honest, devout, and cheerful person who was enjoyable to be around. From his first marriage, he had a son, and from his second, he had two daughters. When he passed away, he and his second wife were no longer together. According to Jody’s autopsy report, he was shot seven times, several times in the side of the belly and once each in the arm and chest. Near his automobile, the police discovered six.45-caliber shot casings.
Who Killed Joseph Wilder?
Nothing appeared to have been removed from or searched through inside the car, the investigators discovered as they examined the crime scene. While additional rounds passed through the driver’s window, they only noticed one bullet hole in the windscreen. Additionally, the cops discovered a flat piece of plastic on the highway’s shoulder that was not associated with Jody’s Ford Explorer. The investigators surmised that it might have come from the offender’s car. They also spoke with the shootout witnesses, who revealed that they saw a truck pull up in front of Jody’s car.
Witness accounts claim that someone exited the truck and fired at Jody through the driver’s window. After firing several shots, the assailant turned back to his car, stopped and shot through the windscreen. According to the preliminary evidence, it appeared that two drivers who were speeding on the highway caused road rage, which then led to homicide. By combining the general descriptions provided by numerous witnesses, the investigators were able to create a composite drawing of the offender.
The police decided to retrace Jody’s steps leading up to the gunfight in order to solve the murder. They found out through asking around that he had been frequenting his regular hangout, a nearby karaoke club, where he spent the majority of the evening drinking and singing. Jody loved to sing and had performed a few songs on the evening of 7 August according to the bar owner, who claimed that he was a frequent patron. Around 9:15 p.m., while performing his final song, he received a pager and hastily departed the bar.
According to the detectives’ calculations, it took 12 to 15 minutes to go from the pub to the crime scene, leaving 30 to 35 minutes unaccounted for. Later, it was discovered that he was speaking with his ex-wife. The victim and his flatmate and buddy Mark were residing in the victim’s temporary house when the police searched it. After Jody’s second wife kicked him out, his flatmate told the police that he had offered him a place to stay. Jody was expected to complete some remodelling work for Mark in return for the living arrangement.
Mark, however, asserted that his business was having financial issues and that Jody was too distraught to work. Early in August, they got into a fight over Jody owing him some money. But once Mark offered a plausible alibi, the police dropped him as a suspect. The victim’s son Nolan, a local drug dealer who knew Jody, and other individuals were also questioned by the police in relation to the homicide. The investigators were interested in Nolan after learning about his contentious connection with his biological father, even though the most of them were ruled out.
Despite the fact that Nolan’s face matched the composite sketch remarkably well, the authorities disqualified him as a suspect. Eventually, the case was closed for more than 17 years until being reopened on August 26, 2015. Police sources claim that a Texan lady enrolled in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme called the neighbourhood police to confess something to them. She asserted that she resided close to the murder location in 1998 and dated Jeff Kilpatrick at the time.
She claimed to be angry. One evening, Jeff arrived home armed and made a remark about seeing his brother shoot someone on the side of I-20. Marcuss Herndon was reportedly in the passenger seat of the dark blue pickup being driven by Charles Richard Kilpatrick. When Charles’ former truck’s missing bumper cover piece was found in 1998, the authorities were able to identify the vehicle. The current owner acknowledged that he purchased the car without a bumper cover.
Where is Charles Kilpatrick Now?
According to reports, Charles was found in possession of a.45-caliber revolver some months prior to Joseph’s murder during a routine traffic stop. The investigators set up a wire trap for the Kilpatrick brothers to fall into as they narrowed in on their suspect. The brothers fell for the trap and discussed the crime over the phone, providing the authorities with enough evidence to apprehend Charles on September 30, 2016. He was accused with aggravated assault and felony murder.
In the beginning of Charles’ trial in November 2017, his defence made the unpersuasive claim that he shot Joseph in self-defense. Although no gun associated with Joseph was ever discovered at the location, he and Marcuss said Joseph flashed a handgun that evening. On December 6, 2017, Charles was given a life sentence with the chance of parole after the jury found him guilty on all counts. The 53-year-old is incarcerated in the Washington State Prison in Davisboro, Georgia, per official court records.
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