Lancaster County man guilty in wife’s murder, gets 59-year sentence


A Lancaster County man was sentenced to nearly 60 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in his wife’s 2013 stabbing death.

A jury on Thursday found John Ghent Jr., 56, guilty of murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the stabbing death of Elaine Ghent, 54.

Circuit Court Judge Brian Gibbons sentenced Ghent to 54 years in prison for the murder charge and five years for the weapon charge, according to 6th Circuit Solicitor Randy Newman.

Ghent was arrested Oct. 28, 2013, after his wife was found dead in their home on Home Place Lane. Ghent himself was injured, but police and prosecutors said his injuries came from an altercation between him and family members who found Elaine Ghent dead.

Ghent called his daughter and sister early that morning and left voicemails containing statements like “I’m sorry” and “I had to do it,” Newman said.

The couple had been feuding over John Ghent’s not having a job and his refusal to leave the home, which culminated with Elaine Ghent giving her husband an ultimatum, Newman said.

“She told him she wanted him to leave, and he said he wouldn’t leave," Tressa Howle, Elaine Ghent's sister, testified in court Tuesday in Lancaster.

The Ghents’ son, Jonathan Ghent, and his wife, Nicole Ghent, and their two children lived with them in their home. Jonathan and Nicole Ghent said in court that their 4-year-old daughter always slept between her grandparents in their bed; however, on the night of Oct. 27, John Ghent said she couldn't sleep with them.

John Ghent later confessed that on that night, when his wife came home from work, he stabbed her, then swallowed some of her blood pressure medication to try to kill himself.

Family members the next morning found John Ghent lying in bed next to his wife, who was already dead from a single stab wound to the chest with a filet knife, Newman said.

After the murder, John Ghent made numerous statements to paramedics, police and detention officers in which he admitted to killing his wife, saying, “my son beat me up because I killed his mama,” Newman said.

During the trial, Ghent argued that the stabbing was accidental.

He has been in jail since the murder, and faced up to life in prison.

“I think it’s a good outcome to the case,” Newman said. “We can’t bring Elaine back but we can bring some closure to the family. Now they know Mr. Ghent will never see the outside of a prison again.”

The Herald’s news partner, WSOC-TV, contributed

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala