Local News

'Can't be real,' friends say of woman's murder arrest

Posted June 17, 2013

— Friends of Joanna Madonna and Jose Manuel Perez were shocked Monday morning to learn that he was dead and she was charged with his murder.

A Wake County man on his Sunday morning walk found Perez's dead body along Old Bayleaf Road near Durham Road (N.C. Highway 98). Tom Newnam told authorities he walked the same route Saturday night and the body wasn't there.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison and investigators believe Perez was killed elsewhere and dumped on Old Bayleaf sometime Saturday after dark. They did not say what led them to Madonna as a suspect.  

The couple shared a home 12412 Schoolhouse St. in Raleigh where, friends said, Madonna cared for Perez, a Vietnam veteran, along with her ailing father and three children, the youngest of them with autism.

A spokeswoman for the Wake County Public School System said Madonna had worked for the district, both as a substitute and a full-time teacher, over the past few years. She resigned her job teaching special education at Garner High School in March.

Despite all her responsibilities, she had good friends to confide in. Two of them sat beside her in court Monday, where she was arraigned on the murder charge and held without bail.

"I kept thinking, 'This can't be real,'" said Karen Matchunis. "It's not Joanna."

Matchunis said her friend would never have done anything that would take her away from her children.

Wake County sheriff's deputies arrested Madonna early Monday, less than 24 hours after her husband's body was found. 

"It truly looked like somebody had thrown a white garbage bag out," Newnam said. His dog sniffed it and walked on, but Newman realized as he got closer that it was a body.

Investigators say they don't think the homicide was committed near where the body was found, but they have not released either a cause of death or a possible motive.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • jbengel Jun 24, 2013

    RIP Jose. You will be missed.

  • RustyDawg Jun 18, 2013

    "why don't couples just go their separate ways? Why does one have to murder the other? Terkel"
    Most of the time, one of them is a bully in some fashion. If there are kids involved, the bullying usually continues until the other completely buckles or snaps. A lot of bullies don't consider themselves that way. They believe their behavior is justified and rightious.

  • Obamacare forever Jun 18, 2013

    No accomplice? There's no way she lifted 230 lbs all by herself. I'm not buying it.

  • markevankidd Jun 18, 2013

    meanwhile, back at Joanna Madonna: 64-46= new episode of Snapped.

  • LastSon1981 Jun 18, 2013

    Walking down the street isn't a crime, but jumping a white guy who's getting on your nerves is.


    So true Terkel only there wasn't a white guy involved and a guy in his prime getting it handed to him by a 17 year old to the point he had to shoot him. Shameful

  • JAT Jun 18, 2013

    surprised she was able to pull such a large man out of a vehicle by herself.

  • Terkel Jun 18, 2013

    Walking down the street isn't a crime, but jumping a white guy who's getting on your nerves is.

  • Brian Jenkins Jun 18, 2013

    Had Trayvon stayed out of where he didn't belong, he might be alive today.
    Hugh Jarce
    June 17, 2013 3:35 p.m.
    Report abuse

    LOL really? Why didnt he "belong" there? This should be good.......

  • dollibug Jun 18, 2013

    There should be some sort of *EVIDENCE* that this woman murdered the man....but I do know that people can be *INDICTED, TRIED AND CONVICTED without any EVIDENCE at all*....this happens and it happens a lot. It will indeed be quite a journey for her from this point forward, whether she is guilty or NOT. Perhaps she was charged with the murder because she was married to him or just lived with him. This seems to be a good reason to be accused of a crime these days.

  • dollibug Jun 18, 2013

    Being a caregiver can get really stressful....so were the 2 of them married or not? There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions to this *story* and actually what took place. Who dumped the body? Please do not tell me that anyone actually thinks this woman picked up a dead body and dumped it by herself....don't think that took place.