Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dad in "custody dispute" murdered two kids before police standoff (Springfield, Missouri)

The (deliberate?) police ignorance about this crime should be astounding, but is, in fact routine. This despite lots of research that clearly explains why fathers like WILLIAM R. WILLIAMS murder their kids. There is nothing "unfathomable" about it, nothing unusual. The murders fit a very common pattern. And these crimes ARE PREVENTABLE, despite their claims to the contrary.

Let's identify the red flags for them.

1) Fathers engaging in "custody disputes" (i.e. one-sided custody sieges against the mother) are highly likely to have histories of domestic violence and child abuse.

2) Notice that the father still appeared to have some sort of joint custody/visitation rights, as the mother had trouble AT LEAST ONCE BEFORE with retrieving them from the father. Clearly, the violent father has some serious control issues, which is an especially big red flag for this kind of crime.

3) The children were clearly in distress from the incident, although the rather stupid police officer failed to register that the crying was in fact distress. Given that the kids were only 2 and 4, they wouldn't be able to necessarily verbalize their distress well. But given that the little boy RAN TO HIS MOTHER, that alone speaks volumes.

4) The fact that Daddy was armed to the hilt is also a bad sign, especially in conjunction with everything else we know about him. Notice that after the earlier incident, the police didn't even bother to enter the father's apartment or investigate whether he had weaponry. Utter FAIL.

So no, this crime was preventable. Stop giving violent controlling fathers access to kids. Problem solved. See the Killer Dads and Custody list for MISSOURI to see similar crimes. Not so rare, are they?

Police: Children were dead before standoff began

Amos Bridges, News-Leader
7:35 a.m. CDT March 18, 2015

Springfield police likely never had a chance of saving two young children found dead Monday at Lake Shore Apartments, according to Police Chief Paul Williams.

The chief said Tuesday that preliminary autopsy results indicate Brodie Williams, 4, and Marley Williams, 2, died of gunshot wounds at least a day before officers made entry into the apartment where the children's father, 51-year-old William R. Williams, engaged in an extended standoff with police.

"The children were probably killed 24 to 48 hours before we discovered them, before we went in," the chief said. "Unfortunately I think the children were already dead when we got the call."
William R. Williams, who was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, is thought to have died sometime between about noon Monday and the time police made entry into the apartment, shortly after 6 p.m.

An incident report released Tuesday afternoon said police initially were alerted after the suspect "called a third party and made an allegation that he had killed his two children and was waiting on officers to arrive so that he could kill himself."

Court documents show William R. Williams had filed for divorce from the children's mother and had been involved in a custody dispute. A Nov. 10 police report alleges that he had locked himself and the children in the apartment at least once before, although police did not enter the apartment then or note the presence of firearms.

Chief Paul Williams, who is not related to the suspect or victims, said officers worked to confirm the children's deaths during the hours-long standoff that ended Monday evening.

"Early on, our negotiators thought that to be the case," he said, noting that officers' actions — or in this case, decision to delay action — were based on the information at hand.

"When it transitioned into an 'armed and barricaded' situation (rather than a potential hostage situation) the sense of urgency goes away," he said. "We're going to stay as long as we need to."
"I can't think of anything we would have done differently," the chief said.

At the briefing, Williams said the suspect and police negotiators talked about the kids but the man never expressly acknowledged killing them. But he did make comments indicating he might kill himself or try to provoke police into killing him. Later Tuesday, the chief said he had since learned that the suspect had admitted killing the children in a phone call sometime Monday morning.

"He made comments about 'ending it, it's not going to end well,'" the chief said. "Throughout there was concern ... he was wanting us to do that for him."

Officers "would have taken a shot" if warranted

The chief said officers found "handguns, rifles and ammunition" in the apartment where William R. Williams and the children were found.

Officers were prepared to shoot the suspect, who at one point appeared on a balcony carrying a rifle. But the threshold for using deadly force was never crossed, the chief said.

"In this situation, if the subject had threatened someone or pointed his weapon at a citizen or officer ... we would have taken a shot," he said. "(But) he never presented the firearm or pointed it at anyone ... and he hadn't made any specific threat to anyone."

Negotiators kept in contact with the suspect by loudspeaker or cellphone for much the standoff, the chief said. "He was pretty active contacting people and responding until about noon (Monday)."
Law enforcement activity picked up briefly about that time but soon calmed.

"Come out the front door of your apartment. Do it now," an officer said into a bullhorn about 12:10 p.m. "This is your last chance."

Despite the officer's warning, the standoff continued. Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol arrived after noon to relieve the Springfield tactical officers who had been on-site overnight, a transition that the police chief called seamless. Numerous ambulances and Springfield Fire Department vehicles also were on scene.

The apartment where William R. Williams had holed up was out of public view given how police secured the scene, making it hard to ascertain developments. Members of the media and Lake Shore residents who had been evacuated from their homes were kept well away from the area, as were family members of William R. Williams and the children.

"I understand the frustration from folks" who were displaced by the standoff, the chief said. "But at that point we're going to take as long as it takes" to resolve the situation safely.

The police chief noted that, in addition to the tactical officers involved in the daylong standoff, other police were at the complex interacting with those affected by the situation. "Officers engaged with family and friends for that same amount of time."

A truck marked as belonging to the fire department bomb squad arrived about 5 p.m. and a robot was deployed. A loud boom could be heard about 6:15 p.m. The chief said the sound was related to officers making entry into the apartment, although he declined to provide additional detail about tactics or equipment used.

Inside the apartment, officers found William R. Williams, along with the bodies of the children, all dead.

"There's really nothing we could do to prevent it," the chief said.

Divorce filings, custody dispute preceded deaths

Court records indicate Williams R. Williams filed for divorce in March 2014 from Brittnee Williams, whom he had married in May 2011, but the case was later dismissed. He filed again for divorce in Nov 4. The November divorce filing says that Williams worked for CST, LLC at the time.

Brittnee Williams and the children were living in Lebanon by then, according to the Nov. 10 incident report police released Tuesday.

The report said Brittnee Williams called police when her soon-to-be ex-husband did not return the children to her in Lebanon as per a custody agreement, which had not yet been signed by a judge. The report says William R. Williams had locked the children in his apartment and refused to open up when police arrived. In the report, an officer said the children could be heard crying "but it did not sound as though they were in distress."

William R. Williams at one point emerged onto the balcony with the children, according to the report. Later, while he was distracted, the 4-year-old boy opened the front door and ran to his mother. The 2-year-old girl was left in her father's custody while her mother sought a signed judge's order, according to the report.

Asked if Williams' family difficulties or a health issue had influenced his actions, Police Chief Paul Williams said he didn't know.
"It is unfathomable to me that a parent would kill their own children," the chief said. "We'll never know what led him to do this."

Timeline of the standoff

About 23 hours passed between the time police were called to unit 2809 at Lake Shore Apartments on Sunday and the time Special Response Team officers turned command over to detectives for crime scene processing, according to a timeline provided by the department.


8:24 p.m. – Call made to 911
8:26 p.m. – Officers dispatched
8:31 p.m. – Officers arrive on scene and set up perimeter
8:50 p.m. – Negotiations begin
9:30 p.m. – Special Response Team activated


1:30 p.m. – Missouri State Highway Patrol takes over tactical operations, relieving Springfield officers
4:06 p.m. – Springfield Fire Department fire marshals arrive to assist with searching and clearing interior
5:52 p.m. – Officers implement plan to breach/gain access to the apartment
7:19 p.m. – Scene turned over to Springfield detectives for crime scene processing


5:25 a.m. – Detectives clear the scene

Quiet scene at apartment Tuesday

The tactical officers and detectives that had swarmed over the Lake Shore Apartment complex Sunday and Monday were gone by mid-morning Tuesday, replaced by maintenance workers who appeared to be fixing or assessing damage sustained during the standoff.

Workers appeared to be repairing the window of the unit where the bodies of William R. Williams and his children were found, as well as a nearby fence. Hazmat-clad individuals were inside the apartment; a nearby truck indicated they worked for Springfield-based Sunbelt Environmental Services.

Several individuals residing near Williams' unit — who would have been among those evacuated during the 23-hour standoff — declined to comment. After a short period, apartment complex staff told a News-Leader reporter and photographer they would be considered trespassing if they were not Lake Shore residents.

"We've got to protect everyone's emotions and privacy," the staff member said.

About three miles away at an apartment in the 4300 block of South Timbercreek Avenue — listed as the address of Williams, his wife and the two children on a November divorce filing — several residents who answered doors said they had either recently moved in or didn't know the family.

Thomas Gounley, News-Leader