Wake investigators say murder suspect and her daughters told conflicting stories

rgallagher@newsobserver.comJuly 31, 2013 

— Jose Manual Perez had been stabbed numerous times, and his neck had been cut before he was found dead June 16 alongside a road in northern Wake County, according to search warrants made public this week.

His wife, Joanna Roberta Madonna, is charged with his murder.

The warrants cover searches of their house at 12412 Schoolhouse St. and the collection of physical evidence from Madonna, 46, including a DNA swab and blood and hair samples. They provide the first public details of the case and how investigators came to charge Madonna with murder.

A man out for a Sunday morning walk found Perez’s body alongside Old Bayleaf Road near N.C. 98 and Falls Lake. After deputies identified Perez, 64, they went to the house on Schoolhouse Street, a few miles away.

When they arrived, a daughter said that her mother was not home and that “Jose had left to go to Florida,” sheriff’s Investigator T.S. Barefoot stated.

The daughter told deputies that her mother and stepfather had been fighting recently because Madonna had found emails that she felt indicated an affair between Perez and a woman in Florida.

Madonna later told investigators that “her husband had been drinking a lot lately and had been abusive,” according to Barefoot. She said she had asked him to leave the house and get help and that she had last seen him around 7 p.m. on June 15 with a suitcase in his hand.

Another daughter told investigators that she had seen Madonna and Perez leaving the house together that night and that Madonna returned alone “hot and sweaty,” Barefoot wrote.

When investigators searched the house, they confiscated a knife, blood swabs, two computers and a flash drive, Perez’s Jeep, Madonna’s Mercedes-Benz, clothing, jewelry and trash bags in which they found a GPS unit.

In asking for a warrant to search again June 25, investigators told a magistrate that the trash bags also held “clothing and personal items that had been previously described by Ms. Madonna as being used during the events that led to Mr. Perez’s death.”

Madonna is being held in the Wake County Detention Center without bail.

Gallagher: 919-829-4572

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