Crime

He started raping a child when he lived in Pascagoula. She later had his baby.

Joseph Gable Wood Sr.
Joseph Gable Wood Sr.

A child predator who repeatedly raped a child in Pascagoula starting when she was 4 years old has been sentenced to life without parole in Louisiana, where the rapes continued.

Joseph Gable Wood Sr., 69, continued to rape the girl for 10 years and she became pregnant with his child, said Charles Ballay, District Attorney of Plaquemines Parish.

Wood raped the girl until she was 14, Ballay said in a new release.

The victim is now in her 40s. Her son is in his 20s.

It is Wood’s third conviction for sexual assaults of children.

Wood’s trial was underway Wednesday when he decided to plead guilty, Ballay said. The jury had already heard testimony that DNA linked Wood to the child, Ballay said.

Wood began sexually assaulting the girl in Pascagoula in 1975 and continued after Wood moved to Port Sulphur, Louisiana, in 1977. Wood worked as a tugboat captain while living in Port Sulphur, according to the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Each time Wood raped the girl, “Wood threatened the victim by telling her to keep her mouth shut and that he would kill her if she mentioned the abuse to anyone,” Sheriff’s spokesman Eric Becnel said at the time.

Wood forced the girl to have sex with him at an abandoned fishing camp in Plaquemines Parish in 1985, which resulted in an arrest warrant in 2014 for that crime and related ones.

This is his third conviction as a pedophile.

He was convicted in January 2015 of lewd or lascivious conduct with a 13-year-old girl after his wife found him having sex with the child in November 2014, officials said. He was sentenced in Bay County, Florida.

In June 1992, more than two decades earlier, police in Panama City, Florida, arrested him on the same charges, alleging he fondled one his daughter’s friends at two different sleepovers at his home. He was convicted of those crimes in 1993.

Wood will be sent back to Florida to finish serving out his time on the 2015 conviction and will be extradited to Louisiana to live out his life in prison.

Wood worked on a tugboat during his years in Plaquemines Parish, Becnel said. Wood was born and raised in Apalachicola, Florida, and also has lived in Sandpoint, Alaska, and White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

Bechnel had contacted media in 2015 across the Gulf Coast and other places Wood had live because it was believed Wood also victimized other young girls.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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