Who or what is an abuser like?

Normally when I blog, my focus is mainly on the crime, the victim or the children involved. Today is a little different. Today, let’s focus on the abuser.

What is your perception of an abuser? A mean old  man, the drunk who staggers out of the bar and goes home to beat his wife, or the punk on the street corner? An abuser can be any of the above or more.

Police are looking for John “Woody” Raymond Woodring for a domestic crime. We will get into that a little later. Let’s talk about John.

According to an interview he completed with The Sylva Herald, Woodring has said he had a “rough” childhood. He said he had been a Marine, and that he had fought in the Gulf War. He has said that before his military service he was in trouble with the law several times, and that after the service he lived an “unstable” life. He was arrested once for drunken driving and assault and he was later jailed for assault. He said that while he was in jail, he got curious as to what drove people to live outside the law, and he decided to put his curiosity to use.

He said he had obtained two associate degrees at the local community college. He then attended a university where he majored in sociology, focusing on deviant behavior and after his graduation he planned to get his masters degree in counseling.  

He also wrote a book which he self published called “The Convict Speaks”. In research for the book, he began a correspondence with such notorious criminals as “Son of Sam,” Winston-Salem’s “Dungeons and Dragons” murderer, and Eric Rudolph.


Acquaintances have called him charming and polite. They have also called him happy go lucky and quick to shake your hand.  But some have said they didn’t quite trust him, and said he had a darker side. They said he was intensely jealous of his wife. They said Woodring and his wife “feuded” a lot. And that if someone paid attention to the wife Bonnie, he would change like Jekyll. and Hyde.

citizen-times.com                    citizen-times.com

Police say that on Thursday, John “Woody” Raymond Woodring, 35, violated a protection order by going to his wife’s home. Police also say that he also allegedly attempted to strangle her and that he got away. Warrants were issued for his arrest, but he managed to elude law enforcement.

Woodring and his wife had a website in which they posted pictures they had taken at places they had been, and they had begun offering the pictures for sale. The website is down now but here is the cached version of the about page of the site. Pictures have been removed and the links are no longer clickable. Police say that someone, apparently Woodring had posted an apology to Bonnie, on the site. Police believe that was posted after the strangulation attempt.

After the strangling attempt and with Woodring at large, Bonnie Woodring, 48, fled to an emergency shelter with her 13 year old son from a previous relationship.

On Monday night Woodring is accused of going to the shelter. It is believed that he waited until an employee who was leaving the premises after work. He is accused of pushing his way past her into the shelter, where it is alleged that he used a shotgun and shot his wife in the kitchen of the shelter. Reportedly the 13 year old son was in another room at the shelter and did not witness the shooting. There were no other residents at the shelter.  

Woodring is believed to have fled the shelter in a stolen 2006 blue Honda Civic North Carolina tag JRY-2108. He is considered to be armed and dangerous. He has known connections in western North Carolina, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania and an alert has been issued for him nationwide. He is considered to be armed and dangerous. Woodring is described as having brown hair, 5 ft. 9 inches tall, and weighing about 190 lbs. He is reported to have a USMC tattoo on his left shoulder

heraldsun.com                                     fox21.com    


Who or what is an abuser like? They can be the mean old man, the drunk, or the punk. They are also sometimes  described as upstanding citizens, nice people, average people or generous people. An abuser is most often a man, but can be a woman. Frequently some jealousy or controlling nature may creep through in their association with others outside the home. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it can only be seen through the responses of the spouses or children, or in unexplained or poorly explained injuries.

Murders taking place at shelters are rare. Shelters go through some pretty elaborate procedures to protect the persons who have sought shelter there. Most use a variety of protections including keeping the locations secret, alarm systems, locks, and police protection. All use as many safeguards as possible. But even the Secret Service who protect the president, has to concede that no system is foolproof.

Still a shelter provides much more protection than the average home.


John “Woody” Woodring was working as a  graduate teaching assistant and studying for his master’s degree in counseling.

His previous criminal history included several misdemeanors including forgery, theft, and driving while impaired. He had also been previously charged with domestic violence in a prior marriage and had a stay away order with another woman after a conviction for tresspassing.

citizen-times.com   (Picture of suspect at link)

In the apology reported to have been posted on the couple’s website, Woodring reportedly asked for forgiveness, promising to change and that the violence would end.

It appears that is not the first time he had written something similar. Another wife, and a different marriage almost 10 year prior, Woodring had taken out a newspaper ad after being charged with domestic assault in that relationship.

citizen-times.com (Picture of suspect at link)

Continuing search. Court documents hint that Woodring might be suicidal. Article contains links to a portion of the video that Woodring posted on the website and various court documents related to the case. Also links to previous coverage they have written about the case. They appear to have the most extensive coverage.



The search has been expanded to North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.


 A big thanks to Trench for the tip on this one.


And thanks to Beth, we have the video greensboring.com

A record search has shown that Woodring had been married 4 times. And he may have married Bonnie Woodring out of state as they have been unable to locate a marriage record for that marriage. There is speculation that Woodring may have been married to another woman at the time that he married Bonnie Woodring. A land deed was filed on Sept. 8, but his divorce was not final from his previous wife until Nov. 2005. Police are now searching his vehicle.



Somewhere in the midwest, a motorist on a toll road got cut off by another driver. The motorist made a note of the make and model of the vehicle, the NC plate and got part of the license number. Police believe this matched the description of the vehicle that Woodring is believed to have stolen from a neighbor and are searching the camera videos to see if an image of the vehicle was captured.

Bonnie Woodring had filed for a 10 day emergency protective order months before her death, citing a relationship “riddled with jealous rages, intimidation, pushing me down, threatening to kill me if I ever left him” However, she only cited one date 11 months earlier, so the request was denied. She had the option to file for a long term protection order but did not pursue it.



John Woody Woodring has now made AMW fugitive list.

John Raymond Woodring legally changed his name to Woody Woodring. He has a tattoo of the cartoon character ‘Woody the Woodpecker’ on his arm and he has several other tattoos. He enjoys hunting activities like hunting, fishing, and boating. He loves talking on his cell phone. He likes to hang out at bars and drinks Bud Light beer. His hobby is photography. And he also likes writing.

amw.com          amw.com picture of Woodring at link

Steve Huff at CrimeBlog.US  has additional insights on this one.

A discussion of the domestic violence laws in NC, the strengths and weaknesses.

They have made non-fatal strangulation a felony.

They have pro-arrest and evidence based prosecution laws, basically meaning that if police see evidence of violence they can make an arrest based soley on photographic and other evidence obtained by the police.

The laws however are dependent on the local agencies discretion.

It goes without saying that no law is any better than its application, and in how law enforcement officers, attorneys and judges are trained in its possible uses.

Mention is also made of the unsung heroes, the people who work in the area of domestic violence.



The stolen Honda Civic was found at a bus station in Knoxville, Tennessee. Indications are that it may have been there several days. The car has not been searched as yet, but has been taken to be processed. Law enforcement is checking bus ticket purchases and video cameras to verify if Woodring was in the bus station.



More info about Woodring’s history, the couple’s relationship, the marriage (he reportedly wasn’t divorced when he married Bonnie the first time, and they later married again after she found out and he had gotten the divorce).

More details about the shooting (allegations that Woodring assaulted a woman who worked at the shelter and that Bonnie may not have been the one he intended to shoot that day. Alleged that he had intended to shoot her son, so that she would suffer).

Allegations of theft from an elderly woman, from Bonnie, and abuse not only of Bonnie but also her son.


The body of John “Woody” Woodring has been found. Area residents say that an abandoned church bus reportedly stolen from Tennessee had been found in the area a couple of weeks before and that there had been some searches going on. Residents believe that Woodring may have been traveling at night and breaking into boats docked there for items to meet his needs. Woodring was found on a houseboat that he had rented in the past. Woodring left a note saying he would miss his sons, apoligised for killing Bonnie, and said he wanted to be in heaven with her.

citizen-times.com                            amw.com



  1. Vidalia11 said,

    September 21, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    Actually this guy sounds like he has been a sociopath for decades. He’s not a normal, average person but an ex-convict with a long history. He probably lies about every single thing he has told people. He identifies with notorious killers and he is deeply disturbed. I imagine that many have been “creeped out” by him without putting their finger on the reason. It’s not uncommon for sociopaths to enter the field of psychology/counseling where they can exploit vulnerable people.

  2. beth said,

    September 22, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    I noticed you didn’t post a link to the video apology. If you haven’t seen it:


  3. sandy said,

    September 23, 2006 at 5:24 am

    Woody is so much like my husband, i currently have a restraining order since march 1. for 11 yrs he told me bout being in veitnam, which i learned in may, he never was there. he reads steven king novels over again. he had 7 bypass heart surgery in 2000 and is a diabetic with major depression.spent a week in a psyc hospital, last monday his psyc doctor tripled his medication so i was told. i wish i could speak to his doctor to deal with him but laws wont allow. i’ve worried for my safety and my kids for four yrs now. we have a 10 yr old son, and he watches over me so bravely.

  4. September 23, 2006 at 6:12 am

    Sandy, my heart is with you. Are you safe? Please contact the local domestic violence agency and see what services they can offer you. It can differ from agency to agency, but they have many more services than what most people know.
    The doctor cannot talk to you without your husband’s permission, that is true. But you can call the office and leave information about your concerns if you need to. They won’t admit he is a patient there, but most likely they will get the messages.

  5. sandy said,

    September 23, 2006 at 6:40 am

    hey, thanks for talking back. no, i dont feel safe. i have no idea what the doctor has been told, but i did hear that the doctor looked at him monday 9-18 and said “you’re not doing a bit good are you” he threw me around march 1 and bruised my arms and legs badly, then said he didnt mean it, blacked out, wasnt in right mind. kids are somewhat happier, say black cloud isnt in house no more, but they worry over me.

  6. September 24, 2006 at 12:52 am

    […] Additional coverage found at Home Sweet Home. Home is a weblog that focuses on domestic crimes like the Woodring case. Included in the blog entry there are further links of interest to other bloggers. […]

  7. September 25, 2006 at 2:46 am

    […] Home Sweet Home updated the entry there today about Woody Woodring indicating he’d been placed on the America’s Most Wanted website. […]

  8. Lynn said,

    June 11, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Scary yet compelling post. The biggest thing I have learned is that an abuser will con you from the start–they don’t strive for love but to steal your trust. No one deserves to be hurt, intimidated or to feel they deserve abuse.

    Dr. Sam Vankin wrote an excellent article on the profile of abusers:

    Choosing to live with an abuser is like opting to share a cage with a predator. No matter how domesticated, Nature is bound to prevail. You are more likely than not to end up as the abuser’s next meal.

  9. January 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    […] Today found this great post, here is a quick excerpt : He has a tattoo of the cartoon character ‘Woody the Woodpecker’ on his arm and he has several other tattoos. He enjoys hunting activities like hunting, fishing, and boating. He loves talking on his cell phone. … Read the rest of this great post Here […]

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