Autopsy identifies gunshot victim as Doniphan man

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Daily American Republic

DONIPHAN, Mo. -- An autopsy confirmed that the body authorities found in a wooded area of Ripley County Wednesday afternoon is that of a Doniphan man.

Based on preliminary findings from the autopsy performed Thursday at Mineral Area Hospital in Farmington, William Joseph Wilkerson, 20, died of a gunshot wound to his head, according to Ripley County Coroner Mike Jackson.

During the autopsy, the pathologist positively identified the body, Jackson said.

"What we used was family information," Jackson said. "He had an extensive health history for a 20-year-old kid. His dad said he had had 17 major surgeries before he was 2 years old. Scar after scar after scar is what we were able to match up."

The clothing on the body also matched with what Wilkerson was supposed to have had on the last time he was seen, Jackson said.

Wilkerson's body was found laying in a dry creek bed in a wooded area, Jackson said.

Deputies of the Ripley County Sheriff's Department and detectives with the Poplar Bluff Police Department were taken to the location of Wilkerson's body by Roland Lee Paisley Jr.

The 21-year-old Doniphan man reportedly confessed to shooting Wilkerson in the head with a 20-gauge shotgun while attempting to commit an illegal poaching act. Wilkerson was reportedly walking directly in front of Paisley when he fired.

Paisley, who is free on $10,000 bond, is charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter. He is to appear in court April 23.

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