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Montco DA identifies couple found dead outside home

Frank and Rhoda Woodward had lived in their Fort Washington home since the 1960s.

Ross and Rhoda Woodward were found dead outside their home Tuesday on Bethlehem Pike in Whitemarsh Township.
Ross and Rhoda Woodward were found dead outside their home Tuesday on Bethlehem Pike in Whitemarsh Township.Read moreVinny Vella

For years, commuters in Whitemarsh Township knew Ross Woodward by reputation, if not by name.

His was the house on Bethlehem Pike near Camp Hill Road with the bizarre, hand-scrawled messages railing against McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the pharmaceutical manufacturer that has a plant a mile away in Fort Washington.

Privately, Woodward, 84, seemingly waged a personal war against the company, racking up harassment charges four years in a row, according to court records.

By Wednesday, many in this Montgomery County community had learned his name: He and his longtime wife, Rhoda, were identified as the two people found dead on their front lawn by a postal worker a day earlier.

Details beyond their names were scarce. Investigators said the cause and manner of the deaths were unknown Wednesday, pending toxicology tests. Law enforcement sources said neither body had visible signs of trauma.

A longtime neighbor said Rhoda Woodward, 81, was suffering from Parkinson’s, and that her condition had deteriorated in recent months. Her husband struggled with his own health concerns, including issues with his heart and pancreas, he said.

Others on the street said the couple were quiet and did not have family that lived nearby. They chose to keep to themselves. Aside from Ross' anti-McNeil banners, that is.

Woodward was convinced that machinery at the pharmaceutical plant was causing tremors in the ground that traveled to his home and kept him up at night, neighbors said. He referred to the tremors as “transmissions” — a banner attached to Woodward’s home on the day he and his wife were found dead read, “Happy Transmissions.”

But his campaign went beyond the signs. Police in Whitemarsh charged Woodward with harassment once a year from 2014 to 2017.

The complaints filed in the cases say Woodward repeatedly called the facility, threatening staff and promising to visit the company. He pleaded guilty in each case, paying several hundred dollars in fines.

Staff at the facility, which is operated by McNeil parent company Johnson & Johnson, did not return a request for comment on Wednesday. The Whitemarsh Police Department declined to comment on the harassment cases.