Fugitive Pedro Argote was found dead Thursday more than a week after he allegedly gunned down a Maryland judge who awarded custody of his four children to his wife.
At approximately 11 a.m. Argote’s body was found in a heavily wooded area between Clear Spring and Bottom roads in the Williamsport area, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release.
The location is about one mile from where Argote, 49, abandoned his 2009 Mercedes GL450 after the killing, the release says.
Officials did not disclose the manner of death.
Last Thursday, Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson granted Argote’s wife a divorce and sole custody of their four children, ages 3 to 12, after hearing harrowing testimony about abuse he’d inflicted on his family for years.
Argote didn’t show up for the hearing, claiming he had a headache.
His wife tearfully testified that he had controlled every detail of her life and had become increasingly violent, once stuffing a towel in their baby’s mouth.
His adult daughter from a previous relationship told the judge she spent most of her teenage years confined to her bedroom. Her father, she said, had installed cameras throughout their house to watch her every move.
He often beat her with a belt and other objects. When she turned 18, she said she moved out and cut off all contact with him.
“The reason I worked up the courage to testify was so that my siblings wouldn’t have to go through the mental torment that I currently have,” she told the court, according to an audio recording of the proceeding.
Wilkinson concluded that Argote was an unfit parent.
“The manner in which Mr. Argote has isolated these children and mom over the past two years, I think that has gone on throughout the marriage, and it’s shocking,” the judge said. “I think he is abusive in multiple ways.”
The ruling came after a protracted divorce and custody hearing that began last month and spanned several days.
In addition to granting Argote’s wife custody, Wilkinson barred the father from having any contact with his children or visiting the family home.
That night, Argote allegedly showed up at Wilkinson’s home in Hagerstown and gunned him down in his driveway while his wife and son were inside.
The U.S. Marshals Service launched a nationwide manhunt for the killer, offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.