After 21 years, murder victim's mother still seeking closure
by Shaka Lias
Apr 25, 2011 | 6531 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jean Jefferson holds a life-size portrait of her daughter, Ann Woody. Ann was found dead, along with her husband, Robert “Monty” Woody, 21 years ago. The case remains unsolved. Shaka Lias/The Daily Tribune News
Jean Jefferson holds a life-size portrait of her daughter, Ann Woody. Ann was found dead, along with her husband, Robert “Monty” Woody, 21 years ago. The case remains unsolved. Shaka Lias/The Daily Tribune News
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For Jean Jefferson, every morning she opens her eyes she relives April 25, 1990 -- the day her life changed forever, the day she received the call that her daughter, Patricia Ann Woody, and her husband, Robert Montgomery Woody, were murdered. Twenty-one years later, no more is known than the day the couple died.

"I relive all that -- every day it rolls around," said Jefferson, 75.

Until his death in 2008, her husband, Billy, revisited that day, too. Jefferson said finding the person responsible for his daughter's death was something Billy wanted done before he passed.

While that did not happen, Jefferson said it's her hope it will happen before she passes. "We've had to live with this, and that was our only child," she said.

Jefferson believes someone may be holding back information about the deaths.

And, while she prays the person will come forward, she doesn't wish any harm to them. "That is dangerous for them and taking another life will not bring her back."

As for the person responsible, "I do want them put behind bars. I don't believe in taking another life," Jefferson said.

For Jefferson, she just wants to know why. Why would someone harm her daughter? "I'll try my best to [forgive] them if I can just find out why they did it," she said.

Jefferson recalls making dinner that day 21 years ago while her husband was mowing grass. Usually Ann, as she was called, would stop at her parents' after working at Woolworth to eat and then take a plate to Monty. On that day, she never came. Concerned Mrs. Jefferson called their home; a man answered the phone and told her Ann had been murdered.

"I threw the phone and just started hollering and screaming," Jefferson remembers. She said her husband walked in, picked up the phone and was told Monty also had been murdered.

"It's been a headache and a heartbroken thing to have to deal with something like that," Jefferson said, "for someone to just come in and take your child's life for no reason whatsoever."

Jefferson smiles now when she recalls her daughter, who liked to go to the mountains and read books. Ann also loved kids but couldn't have any of her own. Jefferson is offering a reward of about $10,000 to the person with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the murderer. If the detectives solve it alone, the money will be given to a homeless children's shelter.

The past 21 years haven't been easy for Jefferson, who says she relies on prayer and trusting in God. "I also pray for the investigators that the Lord will give them the ability to solve this case and get [the killer] off the streets."

Bartow County Sheriff's Office Investigator Marc Barrere has been working the case for nearly 11 years. It's the only cold case he is investigating.

Barrere said there are more than a thousand pages of documents concerning the Woody murders, not including transcribed interviews. Inside those documents are details of the murder.

According to Barrere, a co-worker of Monty Woody came to the couple's Rudy York Road residence because Woody did not show up for work. He knocked on the door and got no answer; he was then able to peep into a window and saw what looked like a body under a sheet. The man entered the home and discovered Ann Woody's body under the sheet.

He immediately left the residence and called 911. Deputies arrived on the scene at 1:52 p.m., and upon checking the residence, Monty Woody's body was discovered in the master bedroom.

Although Barrere couldn't release specific details about the case, he did say Monty Woody's cause of death was stabbing while Ann Woody died from strangulation.

Jefferson said she didn't find out exactly how Ann and Monty were killed until after the funeral. "They didn't deserve that and I can't understand why someone would do such a thing."

In the beginning, there were at least three to five suspects, Barrere said, adding that a lot of people were sought out that shouldn't have been. "The way information come out you have to follow up with it. As time has passed more rumors have built up."

A motive for the murders remains unclear, but Barrere believes Ann Woody may have been a victim of circumstance. "Maybe she tried to take actions to prevent something from happening to her husband," he said.

Whatever the circumstance, Barrere said they need answers. "I don't believe the people responsible have kept this a secret," he said.

Barrere said chances are the case has been talked about, and people may have disregarded it or thought the person was talking out of their heads. The investigator said he feels the person responsible is in the area and it was someone the Woody's knew.

His main focus is to bring closure to the case for the families and take the killer to trial. "It was really high profile when it first happened, and I still consider it high profile," he said.

In addition, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation assists when needed.

Barrere said the last tip he received was in January. "It has potential to be good," he said. "There is still some follow-up that has to be done, still won't be enough to be conclusive to the case."

On the anniversary of her daughter's death, Jefferson offers a plea to the person responsible. "They don't know what it's all about until they experience it and I hope to the good Lord they never have to experience it. If they know anything or know anybody that knows anything, please have them come forward and their name will not be released to the public. It won't be any danger to them. Please come forward to the sheriff's department and tell what you know."

Tips on this case or any case can be called to the tip line at 770-606-TIPS. For the Woody case in particular, call Marc Barrere directly at 770-382-5050, extension 6022.