PERRY COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – A Perry County woman has been charged with her husband’s 1980s cold case murder.
According to Pennsylvania State Police, the body of Carl Jarvis was discovered on August 10, 1987, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.
Officials say his wife, Judith Ann Jarvis had made a domestic dispute call shortly after midnight. She told state troopers at the time that her husband Carl Jarvis was breaking things and that she was scared.
Troopers met Judith outside the home on Cherry Valley Rd. She told them she had not gone inside since her call to police. Troopers attempted to make contact with Carl that evening but received no response from inside the house. He was later found on a bedroom floor naked with two visible wounds to his head.
A .22 caliber revolver with a six inch barrel and a two-inch trigger guard was found on the bed. An autopsy determined Carl died from a close-contact gunshot wound to the head from the .22 caliber gun. The autopsy also determined Carl could not have shot himself, and police said Carl and Judith were the only people home at the time.
During the autopsy, Jarvis was also found to have a 0.13% BAC.
Police said during their investigation, they found blood on Judith Jarvis’ pajamas that she claimed was her own — from a goose bite. The pajamas were placed into evidence and additional blood was found on a hand towel.
More than 30 years later, in October 2020, State Police sent the pajamas back to the laboratory along with a sample of Carl’s hair. Using DNA analysis, they determined the blood on the pajamas was Carl’s.
“This new technology led to our ability to bring charges in this 35-year-old case,” Perry County District Attorney Lauren Eichelberger said.
In January 2021, troopers interviewed Judith who again claimed the blood on her pajamas was hers and that she did not shoot her husband, not even in self-defense. She told State Police her husband threw a coffee pot at her, but that he did not hit her. She also denied knowing her husband was dead when troopers arrived that evening and that she did not touch his body.
Officials had an expert examine the autopsy and reports, They ruled Carl’s death a homicide and said the evidence did not support a suicide.
Judith, now 76, was arrested on December 13 and charged with one count of murder. She remains in the Cumberland County Prison after bail was denied. Eichelberger said this would not have been possible without new technology like DNA analysis.
“It gives me courage that we will continue to find answers in cases like this, particularly with the use of more advanced technology,” she said.
Eichelberger confirmed this is a death penalty case.