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Police credit citizen tip for stabbing suspect arrest

Wayne Walter Williams, 33, arraigned in Juneau District Court Tuesday

Posted: April 2, 2014 - 12:06am
Wayne Walter Williams, 33, appears in Juneau District Court on Tuesday for his arraignment. Williams is facing three felony assault charges on suspicion of stabbing his sister 14 times last week.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Wayne Walter Williams, 33, appears in Juneau District Court on Tuesday for his arraignment. Williams is facing three felony assault charges on suspicion of stabbing his sister 14 times last week.

Juneau police received “lots of tips” from the public after they released a photograph and description of a 33-year-old local man wanted for stabbing his younger sister 14 times at her Douglas residence on Friday.

“JPD received reports from dozens of people thinking that they saw him,” Lt. David Campbell said. “It was all over social media.”

It was one such tip that led police to Wayne Walter Williams — who had fled the scene and was gone by the time police arrived at the Simpson Avenue home — two days later. He was arrested Sunday afternoon at about 3:45 p.m. on a beach near Douglas, as the Empire reported earlier.

Campbell said a 67-year-old man who lives in the area where Williams was found reported the tip that panned out. The citizen lives in the 2600 block of Douglas Highway and thought it was suspicious that a man was pacing on the beach near his house.

“He called in and said that there’s a man pacing back and forth on the beach, and that it looks like he matches the description of the stabbing suspect,” Campbell told the Empire Tuesday.

An officer went to check it out and immediately recognized the man as Williams from previous police contacts, Campbell said. The officer arrested him without incident, took him to Bartlett Regional Hospital to be evaluated, and then to Lemon Creek Correctional Center once he was cleared.

“It was good cooperation there between citizens and police,” Campbell said of the search effort. Police did not release the citizen’s name.

Campbell noted Williams was not arrested at Sandy Beach, as one might think, but a beach near a creek close to the Juneau-Douglas Bridge. It turns out it was only about a minute away — or about .3 miles — from the victim’s home. Williams, who said in court Tuesday that he does not have a mailing address, occasionally lived with his sister.

Williams is facing three felony charges in connection to the stabbing: two counts of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault. He was arraigned Tuesday in Juneau District Court.

Judge Thomas Nave read the charges aloud in court and appointed the Juneau Public Defender Agency to represent Williams. Williams reported that he has not had steady employment since last May.

In the back of the courtroom, two women cried in the public seating area. One of them said she was his mother but declined to comment.

Police said that the 22-year-old stabbing victim was able to call 911 and report that she was stabbed by her brother. Officers and paramedics responded and took her to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Court documents indicate the woman, whose name was not released, required surgery, and the hospital confirmed that a patient matching that description was admitted to the BRH medical surgery unit. The patient was released the next day, BRH spokesman Jim Strader told the Empire Tuesday.

The brother and sister had argued earlier that day, and the sister had asked her brother to leave the residence, prosecutors wrote in charging documents. Neither prosecutors nor police said they knew what the dispute was about.

Prosecutors wrote that Williams obliged by leaving the house but that he came back later, “pounded on the door and threw rocks at the windows.” The woman opened the door to tell him to stop and he forced his way in, according to court documents.

“Defendant forced his way in the residence, said ‘I’m going to do something about this,’ and pulled out a knife and began stabbing her,” Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Polasky wrote in an affidavit.

Someone else was upstairs in the house at the time — a man identified in court documents as Frank Brown — and heard the commotion. He ran down the stairs and saw Williams stabbing the victim at least three or four times in the head, stomach and shoulder, he told police in an interview at the scene, according to the affidavit. Brown told police that Williams fled the house after he saw him.

Police suspect alcohol was involved. Campbell said witnesses at the scene said Williams had been drinking earlier in the day. It’s not known if other drugs were involved.

Williams is next scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on April 7. That court date will be vacated if an indictment is issued before then.

If convicted, Williams could be facing up to 20 years in prison for each count of first-degree assault and 10 years in prison for second-degree assault. He is facing a high presumptive sentencing range since he has prior felony convictions, prosecutors said.

Online court records show Williams has two prior felony convictions. One is a 1999 conviction for theft, for which he received 180 days to serve and five years probation. The other is a 2004 conviction for vehicle theft, which got him two years in jail and three years probation.

Court documents online also show Williams has about 12 prior misdemeanor convictions, dating from 1999 to 2012, in both Juneau and Anchorage. Those offenses include misdemeanor drug possession, probation violations, criminal trespass, assault, theft and shoplifting.

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