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Suspect in Maryland judge's killing has left search area, police say

Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information on the suspected killer of a Maryland judge.
Suspect in Maryland judge's killing has left search area, police say
Posted at 4:15 PM, Oct 23, 2023

An intense search for the suspected shooter in a Maryland judge's death continued Monday, with officials saying the accused murderer may have left the initial search area.

Pedro Argote is wanted for the fatal "targeted attack" of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, who was found in his driveway with gunshot wounds Thursday night just hours after awarding Argote's wife custody of their four children, officials said. The judge was taken to a medical facility where he later died, officials said.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office sought the public's help in finding the 49-year-old accused murderer, described as being 5-foot-7 and weighing 130 pounds, while urging them "to be vigilant" as the search continued for the "armed and dangerous" man.

On Saturday, authorities announced they had found Argote's silver Mercedes — which he was believed to have been operating — in a wooded area of Williamsport, about eight miles away from Wilkinson's home. But Sunday, officials said they had concluded search operations in the area.

"No further information indicates that Argote is still in the immediate area," the sheriff's office said.

The U.S. Marshals Service is now offering a $10,000 reward for information on Argote's whereabouts, as he's believed to have ties to multiple locations outside of Maryland. These locations include New York, Florida, Indiana and North Carolina, the Marshals Service said.

"We're going to catch this guy, it's just a matter of time," Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert said during a weekend news conference.

And although Albert said he doesn't consider the community to be "at risk" from Argote in general, the court and nearby judges have all beefed up security, according to officials.

The messy legal battle that sheriffs believe led to the crime began last year when Argote filed for divorce. 

According to court filings obtained by The Associated Press, Argote accused his wife of failing to properly homeschool and supervise their children; but in a countercomplaint, she accused Argote of "cruel treatment." She filed a protective order days later, saying he was harassing her and threatening to abuse their daughter, AP reported.

"I don't get out of the house without his knowledge," she said in court documents. "I know he has his weapon on him at all times."

A judge granted the order, but it was dismissed weeks later at the wife's request.

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