Bloody Pajamas Lead to Arrest of Elderly Woman, 76, in Husband’s Death 35 Years Ago

Judith Jarvis, left, was arrested 35 years after she allegedly shot her husband, Carl Jarvis, right, to death.
Judith Jarvis, left, was arrested 35 years after she allegedly shot her husband, Carl Jarvis, right, to death.Handout

The new breakthrough in the cold case was thanks to new DNA technology.

Pennsylvania man Carl Jarvis was 42 years old when he died in 1987. He had been found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in the Millerstown home he shared with his wife, Judith Jarvis.

Thanks to new DNA technology that successfully tested the blood from pajamas Judith wore that night, Judith, now 76, was arrested earlier this week more than 35 years after the homicide.

She has been charged with one count of murder, and remains in Cumberland County Prison without bail.

“It gives me courage that we’ll continue to find answers to cases like this, particularly with the use of more advanced technology,” Perry County District Attorney Lauren Eichelberger said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

She explained the pajamas that had blood on the right sleeve were sent for testing in 2019, and the results from the test revealed it had been Carl’s blood.

Judith had originally told authorities that it had been her blood, and she had been bitten by a goose, according WHP, citing a criminal complaint.

“This is an example of the fine work the men and women of Pennsylvania state police to seek justice, preserve peace and improve the quality of life for the residents of our great commonwealth,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Daryl Vankirk said during the press conference.

He explained that troopers had originally responded to the home on Aug. 10, 1987 for a domestic dispute. Judith had called authorities, and said she had been scared because her husband was “breaking things” and met the authorities outside, according to the criminal complaint.

When authorities arrived, they found Carl naked and dead between the bed and the wall in a bedroom, the criminal complaint stated. An investigation later determined that he had been shot in the head with a .22-caliber revolver that was found on the scene, and the bullet had gone through the back of his head and exited the front, according to the affidavit.

While a forensic pathologist found that it would have been impossible for him to shoot himself, and there had been no one else in the home except Carl and Judith, according to the complaint, charges were never previously filed for this case until now.

Eichelberger confirmed that this case is eligible for the death penalty.

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