Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 1998 Cold Case Killing

Charles Richard Kilpatrick was convicted of felony murder and aggravated assault.

Joseph Henry Wilder was 46 when he was found shot multiple times in his SUV on the side of Interstate 20 near a Lithia Springs weigh station on Aug. 7, 1998.

A cold case killing of a man found shot dead in his vehicle on the side of the road has been solved as a Georgia man was convicted of pulling the trigger nearly 20 years later.

Joseph Henry Wilder was 46 when he was found shot multiple times in his SUV on the side of Interstate 20 near a Lithia Springs weigh station on Aug. 7, 1998.

The shooter fled the scene, but witnesses told police that the man believed to be the killer drove off in a dark colored pick-up truck.

Investigators worked to solve the murder to no avail, but in 2015 authorities received new information about possible suspects that led to the reopening of the case.

A woman in involved in a Texas substance abuse recovery program told police that something has weighed on her conscience that she needed to come forward about.

She told investigators that she knew who killed Wilder, saying that at the time of the murder she was dating the murderer’s brother, the Douglas County Sentinel reported.

It was through the woman that police found a dark blue truck that at the time belonged to Charles Richard Kilpatrick and was believed to be the car the suspect fled in.

In addition, the vehicle was missing a bumper cover piece that had been recovered from the crime scene, Chief Assistant District Attorney Ryan Leonard told the Sentinel.

It wasn’t the first piece of evidence that tied Kilpatrick to the murder.

Kilpatrick reportedly had a .45-caliber handgun on him during a traffic stop that occurred several months before the shooting that police believed could have been used to shoot Wilder.

Investigators obtained a wiretap for Kilpatrick and he was overheard talking on the phone about the crime, Leonard said.

Kilpatrick was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.

It was believed that he and Wilder may have gotten into a bar fight that escalated.

Kilpatrick said his actions were in self-defense, but authorities said the facts of the case did not support his claim.  

“They pulled over onto the side of the road and Kilpatrick got out his vehicle and walked back to Wilder’s [car] and shot six, or seven or eight times,” Douglas County Sheriff Phil D. Miller said at a 2016 news conference.

Kilpatrick was found guilty on all counts and on Dec. 6, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.