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DNA Evidence Disproves Elderly Woman’s Goose Bite Claim More Than 30 Years After Her Husband Was Found Shot in the Back of the Head: Police

Judith Ann Jarvis (Pennsylvania State Police)

Judith Ann Jarvis (Pennsylvania State Police)

When her husband was found dead from a gunshot wound to the back of the head inside of their Pennsylvania home more than three decades ago, Judith Ann Jarvis claimed that she had no idea what happened to him, and explained that the blood on her pajamas was caused by a recent goose bite. But new DNA evidence from those very pajamas now indicates that Judith, now 76, shot and killed her husband, 42-year-old Carl R. Jarvis, back in 1987, authorities announced.

“She was arrested early this morning in Lancaster County by members of Pennsylvania State Police, Troop H Crime Section for the murder of Carl Jarvis,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Daryl Vankirk said during a Tuesday press conference. “Since 1987, members of the Pennsylvania State Police have worked diligently to bring resolution to the family of Carl Jarvis, and we are pleased to announce the arrest today.”

According to authorities, Judith Jarvis called 911 at approximately midnight on Aug. 10, 1987 to report a domestic dispute between her and her husband at their home on Cherry Valley Road. She allegedly told the emergency dispatcher that he husband was breaking things in the house and had thrown a coffee pot at her. Judith Jarvis said she was scared, but that her husband had not physically harmed her.

Upon arriving at the scene, first responders with the state police made contact with Judith, who was waiting for them on the front lawn of the home. She allegedly said that she had been outside since calling 911 and was not sure where her husband was or what he was doing.

Troopers knocked on the door but were unable to get a response from Carl. When they entered the home, they found him naked on the floor in a bedroom with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the back of the head. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Investigators said a .22 caliber revolver with a six-inch barrel was found atop the bed. Authorities said that an autopsy determined that Carl’s manner of death was a homicide with the cause of death being a close-contact gunshot wound to the head from the .22 handgun found at the scene.

Carl R. Jarvis (Pennsylvania State Police)

Carl R. Jarvis (Pennsylvania State Police)

Police further determined that Carl’s death “could not have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Perry County District Attorney Lauren Eichelberger said during the press conference.

Speaking to troopers, Judith allegedly claimed that she had not seen or touched Carl’s body. When questioned about the blood on her pajamas, she allegedly said that a goose bit her arm. A hand towel was also recovered with what appeared to be blood stains. Judith’s pajamas and the towel were confiscated and placed into evidence, but no arrests were made in the case.

Investigators with the state police in October 2020 returned to the case file and sent Judith’s pajamas to a crime laboratory and had the blood stain compared to a sample of Carl Jarvis’s hair. The blood on the pajamas was identified as a match for Carl.

“This new technology led to our ability to bring charges in this 35-year-old case,” Eichelberger said. “It gives me courage we will continue to find answers in cases like this, particularly with the use of more advanced technology.”

Eichelberger said that Judith was charged with one count of murder and is currently being held without bond at the Cumberland County Jail. She is currently scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey J. Wood on Dec. 23, court records show.

Watch the press conference below via York Fox affiliate WPMT:

[images via Pennsylvania State Police]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.