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Man Captured After TV Show Gets Death Penalty For Second Murder

April 6, 1991 GMT

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) _ A man who eluded authorities for 10 years until a television program led to his capture was sentenced to death Friday for the 1978 slaying of a teen-age girl.

Joe Sheperd, 38, who had already been sentened to 99 years in prison for another slaying, showed no emotion as the sentenced was pronounced.

″You do not possess any redeeming qualities and should not live among civilized people,″ Bradley County Judge Mayo Mashburn told Shepherd.

Shepherd was found guilty Thursday of murdering Roxanne Woodson, 16, on Feb. 27, 1978.


In November 1990, Shepherd was found guilty of second-degree murder in the March 1976 slaying of Cathy Clowers, 15.

Shepherd had been arrested for the killing but escaped from jail in July 1978 while awaiting trial.

He was recaptured in Canada in November 1988 after an acquaintance in London, Ontario, recognized him on NBC-TV’s ″Unsolved Mysteries.″

Shepherd fought extradition for a year, but was returned to the United States in January 1990.

The state contended that Shepherd killed Ms. Woodson because she refused to have sex with him.

Two teen-age boys testified during the trial that they went for a ride with Shepherd and Ms. Woodson on the night she disappeared.

The teen-agers, now 28 and 26 respectively, told the jury that Shepherd became angry and even pointed a gun - which he later said was a toy - at Ms. Woodson after she rejected his sexual advances in the car.

They left after Shepherd said he wanted to be alone to ″calm her,″ but when the teen-agers returned, Ms. Woodson was gone and Shephard told them she had run into the woods, they testified.

About a month later, Ms. Woodson’s body was found buried in the front yard of Shepherd’s home. He was arrested and later led authorities to a grave that contained Clowers’ body.

The only evidence presented by the defense during the trial was a psychological report that Shepherd has an IQ of 88. During the sentencing hearing, a clinical psychologist said Shepherd had below average intelligence and emotional problems stemming from an unhappy childhood.

But the prosecutor told the jury of Shepherd’s conviction in the Clowers’ case and several rape charges filed against him.

On Thursday, one juror was dismissed after he remembered seeing the segment about Shepherd on ″Unsolved Mysteries.″ The juror was replaced by an alternate.