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Murder of Joy Dishneau in home invasion by Dennis Woodward investigated on Murder in the Heartland

Mugshot of Dennis Woodward
Dennis Woodward is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Joy Dishneau. Pic credit: MO Dept. of Corrections

Murder in the Heartland is traveling to Caulfield, Missouri, in rural Howell County to investigate the murder of Joy Dishneau in a savage home invasion in 2012.

On January 1, 2012, Dennis Woodward and his girlfriend Elisabeth Gunter broke into Dishneau’s house, intending to rob her.

At some point during the home invasion, Woodward stabbed the 63-year-old businesswoman to death. Dishneau was a local store owner who specialized in selling synthetic marijuana, and she was known to keep large amounts of cash.

Woodward and Gunter were unable to locate her stash of cash, but they did steal a television, computer, digital camera, $50 in cash, and some other items. They then loaded all the loot into Dishneau’s Jeep Liberty and stole that too.

They had also taken some Money Orders that Dishneau had ordered the previous day, and when they tried to cash them in, law enforcement was able to swoop in and arrest the pair.

Gunter and Woodward turned on each other

While being questioned by the police, Gunter admitted that they had plotted to rob their victim. She said they packed two sets of rubber gloves and a knife before staking out Dishneau’s home from a secluded spot.

Gunter claimed that Woodward broke the glass in the back door of the house and went inside. She said she heard a struggle between Dishneau and Woodward, and when she eventually entered the house, she found Woodward cleaning blood off the knife in a sink.

Woodward initially tried to blame his girlfriend; he first claimed that Gunter had told him Dishneau had been shot but then suggested she had stabbed Dishneau.

The police believed Gunter’s version of events and charged Woodward with first-degree murder. Gunter was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and pleaded guilty, but Woodward maintained his innocence.

In 2014, a trial in Howell County ended with a hung jury. However, the prosecution got another chance to make its case a few months later when a second trial recommenced, this time, in Phelps County, about 80 miles to the north.

At the second trial, Woodward was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, tampering with a motor vehicle, and two counts of armed criminal action. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

More from Murder in the Heartland

Follow the links to read about more horrific crimes profiled on Murder in the Heartland.

The body of Irene Trujillo was found shot and encased in concrete at the quarry she co-owned with her estranged husband in Colorado. Lionel Lopez was accused of the crime, and he eventually made a deal with the prosecution to serve a mere ten years in prison.

Dylan Gilbertson beat his roommate Jaysen Greenwood to death in their shared apartment in Hibbing, Minnesota. He then had his two other roommates help him clean up the scene and dump the body in a mine pit.

Murder in the Heartland airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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