Friends struggle to believe Wakefield woman killed husband
by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — A body found near Falls Lake off Old Bayleaf Road Sunday was quickly identified as a Wakefield man. The victim’s wife is now in jail awaiting trial for his murder.
Wake County Sheriff’s deputies have charged Joanna Roberta Madonna, 46, 12412 Schoolhouse Road, in the death of Jose Manuel Perez, 64, of the same address.
The charge of first-degree murder, described on the arrest warrant as having been committed “malice and aforethought,” has stunned friends of the couple.
“We’re all just kind of shocked, kind of reeling.” said Bill Herrin, a graphic designer who plays drums in the No Limits band with Madonna, the band’s singer. He also described Perez as a friend.
“I knew Jose. It’s very sad,” he added.
Another friend, who asked not to be identified, said the charge is difficult to believe, noting Madonna was very devoted to both her children and Perez, adding that other friends of the couple are also “devastated and shocked.”
Perez was found by a resident who lives in near Old Bayleaf and Durham roads early Sunday, investigators said.
Madonna turned herself in and was arrested at 2:30 a.m. Monday and is being held in the Wake County jail without bond. Her first court appearance was Monday, where she was read the charges.
Sheriff’s officials declined to make any comments about the case, including how she was identified as a suspect or what type of weapon may have been used.
Two guns, an Iver Johnson .22 caliber revolver and Ruger P95 9mm pistol and ammunition, were seized at the residence, according to the arrest warrant. Also found with the guns was information on gangs.
Another police report said Madonna had a knife at the time of her arrest.
Investigators said they believe Perez was killed elsewhere and dumped on Old Bayleaf sometime Saturday night, according to media reports.
Madonna previously worked as a teacher for Wake County Schools. But the arrest report states her occupation as office assistant with a law firm. She has three children, including a young daughter with autism.
No Limits played O’Dwyers in Wake Forest June 8 and had been scheduled to play again locally this weekend, Herrin said.
Herrin previously played in a different band with Madonna and has known her and Perez for more than five years. Both he and his wife have visited the home to take care of Madonna’s aging father and the youngest daughter.
Perez was a Vietnam veteran. He flew more than 1,000 missions, including having been shot down, Herrin said.
A friend of the couple said that Perez had had health issues and Madonna took care of him. When he was hospitalized with the respiratory ailment COPD, Madonna asked people for their prayers.