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Gainesville man arrested after his father’s body was found in a pond

Joseph William Branham

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

On August 10, 2021, a medical emergency was called in from 2923 NE 9th Street, with a report that there was blood in the house and that someone had died. When officers arrived, they didn’t find anyone in the house, but they learned that the daughter of a man who lived at the house had been concerned because she hadn’t seen or talked to him in a while. She had driven to the house and spoken with her brother, who also lived at the house. Her brother, Joseph William Branham, 26, told her their father, Joseph Craig Branham, 53, was dead. He said their father was “coked up” and that they had fought. He said he didn’t remember what happened, but when he woke up, their father was dead.

The daughter then called her mother, who was divorced from the victim, and asked her to come to the house. The mother told officers that her son told her that there was an argument and that the victim left the house wounded and went across the street. She told officers that when she went in the house, she didn’t see the victim, but she saw that a piece of carpeting had been cut out near the bedroom.

A neighbor told officers that she had seen the younger Branham man (the suspect) about an hour earlier, walking out of the woods across the street with a large black garbage can. The neighbor’s security cameras showed the suspect walking into the woods at about 10:01 a.m. and coming out with the garbage can at 10:03 a.m.

Based on those statements, a canvas of the woods was done, and officers found multiple items believed to belong to the victim and suspect along a trail that led north from the suspect’s house along the wood line and then west into the woods behind the car dealerships on Main Street. Items found included mail in the victim’s name, hair clippers, freshly cut hair (the suspect’s sister said the suspect had recently shaved his head), clothing items, and white latex gloves. A piece of carpeting matching the cut-out in the house was found.

After finding the items, a K-9 tracking team from the Department of Corrections was called, and they tracked down to a small body of water at the end of the trail. The victim was found face down in the water, covered with sunshade-type material, a blanket, and a wooden pallet, apparently intended to keep the body submerged.

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Further review of security camera footage from the neighbor’s house showed the suspect walking northbound on the sidewalk with a black garbage bag on the morning of August 6. About an hour later, he walked by again with a large black garbage can with wheels. A search of the house and yard found evidence that blood had been cleaned up, the garbage can (also cleaned), blood stains, a sunshade with a piece missing, and a partially burned knife.

An autopsy found that the victim had been stabbed multiple times, including a lateral cut across the throat that severed the victim’s trachea.

The suspect was located and arrested on August 12 and charged with murder, tampering with/fabricating evidence, and altering/destroying/concealing evidence.

  • Another COVID death….🤔 My condolences to the family, the world is going ape s$#@.

  • Sad. Looks open and shut. Hope he agrees and confesses. Not let it drag out 20 years for lawyers and judges paychecks.

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