Goshen man faces murder charge in ex-wifes death
Posted: 02/16/2012 at 8:49 pm
By: Jim Miller
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Joseph T. Wayer III, 37, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office reported.
He is in the St. Joseph County Jail without bond.
Barbara Sheppard, 33, was found dead in an alley near Low Bob’s Discount Tobacco at Lincolnway East and Byrkit Avenue in Mishawaka, where she worked.
She had suffered a massive sharp-instrument injury to her neck, police said.
Sheppard left Low Bob’s at about 8 p.m. Dec. 22.
When she did not arrive home, family members and friends started looking for her and notified the Mishawaka Police Department, said Brian Cook, an investigator with the County Metro Homicide Unit.
Her body was found in an alley near the business.
Cook said in a probable cause affidavit that Sheppard and Wayer recently had divorced. The divorce was final as of Dec. 13.
Wayer had been making threats against Sheppard via the Internet, the officer said, which led detectives with Metro Homicide to interview the man.
In his interview, Wayer admitted to posting comments on the Internet and confirmed that he was upset with Sheppard, but told officers he never would harm her, Cook said. Wayer told police he had not seen Sheppard in several months.
Wayer agreed to provide police a sample of his DNA.
When Dr. Joseph Prahlow, a forensic pathologist with South Bend Medical Foundation, performed an autopsy on Sheppard’s body, he found hair fibers coated in blood in her right hand, “indicating that Ms. Sheppard had grabbed the hair of her assailant, pulling some of those hairs out of the assailant’s head,” Cook said in the affidavit.
The hair fibers were sent to the Indiana State Police for DNA testing.
A forensic scientist examined the hair fibers and developed a DNA profile, then compared that profile with several people, including Wayer.
Cook said, “According to the forensic scientist, the DNA profile obtained from the hair fiber demonstrated the presence of mixtures from which Barbara Sheppard and Joseph Wayer could not be excluded as being possible contributors.”
The scientist estimated that the combined probability of inclusion — in other words, the chance of choosing an unrelated person at random — was about 1 in 27 million.