Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The True Story of John Raymond "Woody" Woodring

The Early Years

During the early fall of 2006, a 35-year-old polygamist, con man and published crime writer forced his way into a domestic violence shelter and murdered his estranged wife in cold blood. A month-long, nationwide manhunt followed, during which Crime Library reporter David Lohr exposed the killer's secret online life. He was eventually found dead inside a houseboat on Fontana Lake, near Almond, N.C. The cause of his death remains a mystery.

John Raymond "Woody" Woodring
John Raymond "Woody" Woodring

John Raymond "Woody" Woodring was born in Port Matilda, Pa., on July 2, 1971. According to his own account of his life, which he outlined in a book he published in 2005, Woodring's father left his mother before he was born, and his mother gave custody of him at age 11 to his grandparents, Raymond and Irene Woodring.

Boo cover: The Convict Speaks
Boo cover: The Convict Speaks

"After a couple of years of living a normal, happy life, Woody was faced with another heartbreaking situation," reads an excerpt from his book, The Convict Speaks. "His grandfather died from Cancer right after Woody turned thirteen. This tragedy plus the abusive childhood that Woody had survived had caused him to come apart at the seams. Woody was arrested several times for underage drinking, assault, disorderly conduct, and only by the sake of a miracle, Woody was able to graduate from Tyrone Area High School in 1989."

Following his graduation from high school, Woodring enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Later in life, he would brag about his alleged participation in the Gulf War and the many medals he supposedly earned. However, those who knew him personally say he was anything but a model soldier.

According to Ben Walker, a man who trained with Woodring in Jacksonville, Fla., in the early 1990s, Woodring, then 20, had several altercations with the authorities, and served a short stint in a military jail for making a false ID.

"He stole another Marine's ID card and laminated his photo on it to get access to the bars," Walker said in an interview with Crime Library.

Not long thereafter, Woodring was involved in another incident at a strip club in Millington, Tenn.

"Woody was late coming to class one day, and when he arrived, he gave us this crazy story about how he took one of the strippers to a hotel room, and she pulled a gun on him demanding money after he did the deed," Walker said. "The local police got involved and the hookerI mean stripperhad a wad of money on her. The cop asked Woody if it was his money, and he said it was; so the cops handed over the money to Woody and sent him on his way. This was back in 1991, between July and December."

Walker also had his own personal run-in with Woodring.

"I even got into a fight with Woody when we were both in Millington, TN, for training, before we went to Jacksonville. I think it was over a girl. I'm pretty sure that's why we fought; but all I know was he was super drunk, and I was with a girl that he wanted to be with; and he went crazy.

"It wasn't really much of a fight because he kept charging at me, and I would just keep pushing him down to the ground; but the thing about it was he just wouldn't stop! This lasted for about 30 minutes, and then he finally cooled down, until he took a look at himself in a mirror and noticed that his face was all bloody from carpet burns. He got those from when I would throw him to the ground on the carpet.

"He went crazy again and kept yelling, 'We're not done until I do to you what you did to me.' He once again charged at me, and I once again kept throwing him down to the ground for the next 30 minutes or so. The next day on base he was telling me how sorry he was, and he was back to normal."


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