Manhunt For Accused Killer Of MD Judge Continues, $10K Reward Offered


The Frederick County Sheriff's SWAT Team searches for murder suspect Pedro Argote at the former Garden State Tannery plant in Williamsport on Saturday. Argote is accused of killing Judge Andrew Wilkinson. (Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post via AP)

Patch Regional Manager Deb Belt wrote this story.

HAGERSTOWN, MD — Authorities believe that murder suspect Pedro Manuel Argote is no longer in the Hagerstown area after a weekend manhunt failed to find him and his abandoned car was found in Washington County.

A silver 2009 Mercedes GL 450 belonging to Argote was found in Williamsport near the Maryland-West Virginia border on Saturday. Argote is accused of fatally shooting Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson in the driveway of the judge's Hagerstown home Thursday, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

The U.S. Marshals on Friday offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Argote's arrest, who is considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities said Argote has ties to multiple locations outside of Maryland, including Brooklyn and Long Island, New York; Tampa and Clearwater, Florida; Columbus, Indiana; and unknown cities in North Carolina.

Argote is 5’7”, 130 lbs. with black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on Argote's whereabouts should contact the U.S. Marshals at 1-877-WANTED2 or submit tips via the USMS Tips App.

The court where Wilkinson worked now has a “high-level” of security, and all judges and court personnel are getting increased security, Circuit Court Administrative Judge Brett Wilson told CNN.

On Sunday, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said it had concluded search operations in the Williamsport area. "No further information indicates that Argote is still in the immediate area," the department said on its Facebook page.

The Sheriff's Office continues investigating leads and gathering information in this case.

At a news conference Saturday, Washington County authorities asked residents to call 911 if they see anything suspicious.

"We just want our community to be vigilant," Sgt. Carly Hose said.

Gov. Wes Moore said state agencies are supporting the local law enforcement efforts in the homicide investigation and local, state, and federal partners are all part of the search for Argote.


Murder suspect Pedro Argote. (Courtesy of Washington County Sheriff's Office, Maryland via AP)

Court records show Wilkinson presided over Argote's divorce case, the Associated Press reported. At a news conference Friday, authorities said the shooting happened hours after Wilkinson gave Argote's estranged wife sole custody of their four children.

The shooting was reported about 8 p.m. in the 19100 block of Olde Waterford Road in Hagerstown. Deputies found Wilkinson in the driveway of a residence suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, where he later died from his injuries.

Wilkinson issued a judgment Thursday in the Argote case, officially granting the divorce and awarding sole custody of the couple’s four children — ages 12, 11, 5 and 3 — to their mother, court records show. He ordered Argote to have no contact with the children and pay $1,120 a month in child support.

When Argote filed for divorce last year he accused his wife of neglecting her homeschooling responsibilities and failing to properly supervise the children. Her countercomplaint accused Argote of “cruel treatment” and said she couldn’t support herself financially. Days later, his wife requested a protective order, saying he was harassing her via text, controlling her every move, threatening to abuse their daughter and making false accusations against her.

“I don’t get out of the house without his knowledge," she wrote in court documents. “I know he has his weapon on him at all times.”

Wilkinson granted a temporary protective order — which included a directive for Argote to surrender his firearms — but it was dismissed weeks later at the wife's request, court records show.

Argote repeatedly proposed that they continue living in the same house while they sorted out their digital advertising business and became more financially stable.

Wilkinson wrote in a March 2023 opinion that Argote's proposal was "frankly, a non-starter.” Argote was ordered to move out of his family’s home the same day.

This photo shows Andrew F. Wilkinson being sworn in as a circuit court judge on Jan. 10, 2020. Pedro Argote, 49, is suspected of gunning down the judge in his driveway hours after he ruled against him in a divorce case. (Julie E. Greene/The Herald-Mail via AP)

Wilkinson had been an associate judge in Washington County Circuit Court, 4th Judicial Circuit, since March 11, 2022, according to the Maryland Courts website. Before that, he served as a deputy state’s attorney for Washington County from 2004-2022, and an assistant state's attorney from 1993 to 2004.

Wilkinson was also a youth soccer coach and assistant baseball coach in Hagerstown, according to the Maryland government website. He had been a member of St. Ann Catholic Church since 1985.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More News from Towson
I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified