Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The True Story of John Raymond "Woody" Woodring

Unsafe Haven

Less than ten minutes later, Woodring stole a neighbor's car, along with a 12-gauge shotgun, and drove the four miles to the domestic violence shelter where Bonnie was staying with her son.

Bonnie Woodring
Bonnie Woodring

Upon arriving at the "safe haven" for women, Woodring grabbed the shotgun and forced his way inside, assaulting a female shelter employee by pushing her to the ground. Fearing for the woman's safety, Bonnie ran out from her hiding place and interposed herself between Woodring and the woman. Words were exchanged, and Woodring aimed the shotgun at Bonnie. According to witnesses, he yelled, "You don't want to die, but you're gonna," and then shot Bonnie in the chest at point-blank range. Woodring then fled the shelter in the stolen car as Bonnie's 13-year-old son rushed from his hiding place and cradled his mother in his arms as she took her last breaths.

Following the shooting, investigators were unable to locate Woodring, so they issued a nationwide alert. Ten law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas and Pennsylvania, all places where Woodring had known connections, were put on alert.

When investigators with the Sylva Police Detective searched Woodring's home, they discovered a notebook with a letter to Bonnie, a computer printout of directions and a paper with notations about Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber who had managed to evade the FBI for more than five years.

Roughly one week later, an off-duty sheriff's deputy discovered the stolen 2006 Honda Civic Woodring had been driving parked at a Greyhound bus terminal in Knoxville, Tenn. According to eyewitness accounts, the vehicle had been in the parking lot for about three days. Surveillance cameras at the terminal were unable to provide investigators with any clues, and none of the station's employees could say, with any certainty, whether or not Woodring had purchased a ticket. The station did not keep a passenger list, and travelers were not required to show identification when purchasing tickets. Realizing Woodring could have traveled anywhere in the United States, authorities charged Woodring with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and enlisted the help of the FBI, causing Woodring to be placed on their list of "Most Wanted" fugitives.

On September 25, 2006, Bonnie Woodring's family said their last goodbyes during her burial at Woodlands Forest North Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Her mother, four daughters, son, and two granddaughters were present. "We were so afraid for her," Christina Stojanik, one of Bonnie's daughters, told The Asheville Citizen-Times. "But you just don't expect the worst."

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