WASHINGTON COUNTY (DC News Now) — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) said deputies found the man accused of murdering a Washington County Circuit Court judge dead on Thursday.
In a Facebook post, WCSO said that crews found a body near Williamsport around 11 a.m. It said that the body was in a “heavily wooded area between Clear Spring Road and Bottom Road.”
Officials identified the body as that of Pedro Argote, 49, of Frederick. Argote was accused of killing Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, of Hagerstown.
WCSO said that his body was found about one mile northwest of the area in which deputies recovered his SUV.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, WCSO said that Maryland State Police and other responding agencies were conducting an expanded search.
Investigators began looking for Pedro Argote, 49, of Frederick after the killing of Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, of Hagerstown.
WCSO said Argote went to Wilkinson’s home on Oct. 19 and shot Wilkinson in the driveway. The judge died at the hospital.
Argote’s divorce and custody case was before Wilkinson earlier in the day. Wilkinson gave custody of Argote’s children to Argote’s wife.
Argote did not appear at the hearing. His wife and his adult daughter from a previous relationship testified, outlining patterns of abuse that took place over the course of several years. Among other things, the daughter said that Argote had cameras throughout the house watching her “every move.” She added that he would beat her with a belt and other items.
Two days after the shooting, on Oct. 21, the sheriff’s office said it located Argote’s SUV in the wooded area in Williamsport which crews searched again for evidence on Thursday.
Neighbors living across from the search site along Clear Spring Road tell DC News Now they had never seen anything like this in their community before.
“Helicopters flying all night long was kind of nerve wracking,” said Ester Hoover, who has lived in her home along Clear Spring Road for 50 years. “[I] didn’t sleep very well with that. I’m just glad it’s over. I’m glad for his wife and children it’s over. It was so much stress.”
Hoover said she felt scared over the last week as Argote’s whereabouts were unknown. She said she and other neighbors made certain to lock their doors and cars.
The day the search picked up was the same day that people were to gather to pay their respects to Wilkinson’s wife, children and other family members during a visitation. Wilkinson’s funeral was scheduled to take place Friday at St. Ann Catholic Church in Hagerstown.
During the press update, WCSO said that it could not answer any questions about the cause or time of death until after the autopsy.