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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Son accused of father’s murder, hiding evidence

Joseph William Branham was arrested Aug. 12 on charges of first-degree murder and destroying evidence

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A Gainesville man was arrested by police Thursday after he was accused of killing his father following a heated argument. 

Joseph William Branham, a 26-year-old Gainesville resident, was arrested for the murder of his 53-year-old father, Joseph Craig Branham, at his home, located at 2923 NE 9th St. 

The suspect is being held at the Alachua County Jail without bail. He faces charges of premeditated murder and tampering and fabricating evidence.

An autopsy revealed the victim suffered from bleeding caused by cuts to his throat, which led to his death, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report. After the argument turned physical, police believe the suspect stabbed his father in the head and neck area at least five times with a knife, the arrest report read. 

As of Saturday morning, Branham has not admitted to the killing of his father, GPD spokesperson Graham Glover said.

Police and medical responders arrived at the home Aug. 10 after a concerned family member called about blood in the house and death, Glover said. 

After not hearing from her father in a while, the victim's daughter, Rachel Branham, arrived at the house in the morning. Rachel told police Branham said their father was “coked-up” and there had been a fight. Not wanting to incriminate his sister, Branham told her their father had died but did not say where his body was, according to the arrest report.

There was a history of fighting between the father and son, Glover said. A 2019 court records detailed a 2019 domestic dispute between Branham and his father, but charges were dropped.

A third witness, who lives a few houses down from Branham, told GPD she saw him dragging a large black garbage bag into the woods across the street. She assumed he was throwing away trash, and her home security footage showed Branham carrying a black bag on Aug. 6 at 10:40 a.m., according to the report. Branham was then seen wheeling a black garbage can back into the woods at 11:17 a.m. 

A Florida Department of Corrections K-9 tracking team was sent out into the woods near the house Aug. 10 and found the father face down in an unspecified small body of water near the home, according to the report. He was covered in a “sunshade type” material, blanket and wooden pallet and similar items were later found in Branham’s backyard. 

“The interviews with family members, video footage seeing the son going out into the woods, when the officers went out into the wooded area near the home, the collection of evidence that was out there and the evidence that they collected back inside the home after a search warrant was issued, all connected the son to the incident,” Glover said. 

Trash, including white latex gloves, mail, empty cat food containers and rags, were found near the water. Evidence, including cut-out carpet, hair clippers, freshly cut dark brown hair, mail and the same rags found near the victim’s body, were discovered upon entering the woods by Thomas Mullins, an officer at GPD.

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Officers noticed blood stains at the foot of the victim's bed and underneath the victim’s mattress, according to the report. They also smelled decomposition odor in the laundry room and inside a newly cleaned garbage can in the family’s backyard.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Contact Isabella Douglas at idouglas@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @Ad_Scribendum 


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Isabella Douglas

Isabella Douglas is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter for The Alligator's Metro desk. She previously worked as a news assistant for The Alligator's University team and as a contributing writer for the New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR.


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