Pages in Will's World for you to visit:
William's Life and Photo Gallery
William's Interests, Links, and Artwork
Information on Some of the Other Memorials Dedicated
To William's Memory
Text of the News Stories Surrounding William's Murder and the Trials.
An Extensive List of Links and Information
Information on the Memorial Scholarship Funds
Links to Other Memorial Sites on the Web. You May Submit Your Own Memorial Site To Your Loved One Here, As Well
Published and Unpublished Articles Written by Me Regarding My Own Grief and Sense of Loss.
A "Letter of Demonic Advice" in the style
of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
William's Last Page
- Also in 1997, William attended his mother's graduation from the Frontier School of Midwifery. Here he is shown with her and his brother and sister. He was turning into a handsome, dependable, and honorable young man.
- In March of 1997, William and his family were back in Richmond after a two year absence. Time for his Richmond friends and family to get re-acquainted with him, and time for some decisions to be made. Having left school in Tennessee early, William had some schoolwork to catch up on. He needed to get up to speed with his new curriculum. In order to make sure he was ready for his senior year as a transfer student, the decision was made to enroll him in the Oak Meadow homeschooling program. He would have to work diligently for the entire summer, and though at the beginning of the summer, the work ahead of him was daunting, by August, he was within one week of completing his curriculum with flying colors.
- In order to better accomplish his schoolwork, and to reconnect, William accompanied me to work every day. Most of the time he studied, sometimes he assisted me when I needed a hand in the scene shop, or when he needed a break. I would stop by his house on the way to work, most often needing to wake him up from a sound slumber, we'd grab a sausage biscuit and an iced tea on the way in to work, and I'd drop him off at the end of the work day. Sometimes, I would drop him off at the local library if he needed to do research, but all in all, he proved that he was capable of self-directed study, and seemed to excel at it.
- Sometimes we would finish early. Then we would make the rounds of the music stores, trying out guitars, playing together, finding something new and interesting to do and see. There was great joy in that summer.
- The arrangement was most satisfactory. William still had time for his friends, and he was developing lots of new relationships, as well as renewing former ones. Since he was now driving, he had some freedom, and handled it with responsibility. And best of all, we were becoming good friends who respected each other as adults, and as family.
- On the morning of August 12, 1997, I got up a bit later than usual, hurried out of the house hoping that in the extra time I had taken, William would be up and ready to go. When I got to his house, I realized that this was not the case, and as I went into his room I found him fast asleep. As I was in a rush, and knowing my teen-ager knew better, I was about to get impatient, when I felt an overwhelming urge, "Don't get mad at him." it seemed to say. And so I didn't, and for that brief providential prompting I will be ever grateful. I roused him, pointed him in the various directions he needed to go to accomplish his morning ritual, and we gathered up his books for the day and left the house.
- William had told me several days earlier that he had applied for a job at a fast-food restaurant, a local chain named Bullets. They had a restaurant just up the street from his house, and he had friends who worked there. He was very impressed with the manager, and had told me that he was hoping he would get the job to earn a little extra money before school started. He thought a new guitar might be nice. He also told me that this was a job he was going to take seriously, that he was going to be a dependable and useful employee.
- He got the job, and that morning he was thrilled. He told me about the day before, how he had spent most of the day learning how to do the various jobs around the restaurant, and that he thought he was going to like working there a lot. That morning, however, instead of coming with me, he needed to go to the library, and would I mind dropping him off there so he could do his work and get home a bit early. We stopped at the library, William got out, I told him to have a good day, and as was my habit, I told him I loved him. He said, "I love you too, dad." Those were the last words I heard him speak.
- At three in the afternoon, William walked to work for his second, and last shift at this restaurant. He called his mom around dinner time, and told her he would work to closing. That was the last contact she had with her son. By 11:00 that night, William would be dead, lying in a pool of his own blood in the doorway of the employee's entrance, a victim of a failed robbery attempt by a man wielding a handgun with two bullets in it. He would die instantly, the medical examiner's report citing the cause of death as a "Gunshot wound to neck," and the manner of death, a Homicide. The medical examiner's report summarizes the injury as follows: "This sixteen year old white male died as a result of a contact gunshot wound to the neck that caused injury to the left internal jugular vein and left carotid artery. There was an exit wound and no bullet was recovered." In short, William was dead before he even hit the floor.
- As I think back on it, I realize that there was a successful robbery that night, but not of money. The events of that fateful night robbed my son of his life, and robbed me of my son. No amount of investigating can return these to us. No amount of searching can find this property. No, I'm afraid that this robbery was all too successful, and none of the goods will ever be recovered.
- The facts have been reported by the manager on duty and can be read in the news accounts found elsewhere on this website better than I can record them here. But there are some particulars which we would like to share in addition to the facts already reported.
- William was the next to last to leave the back room that night. The only other person in the back was the manager and she was turning off all the lights, and getting ready to turn on the alarm. William waited with her, I'm sure, to make sure she would be all right. He grew up to be the caring young man I had hoped he would. And indeed, his protection apparently paid off. The manager was unharmed, and for that we are grateful.
- The response of the County Police force was swift, and efficient. Some very good police work went on that night, and it resulted in the capture of three suspects within minutes of the crime. As a result, much of the investigatory process has been in determining the sequence of events in the case, rather than searching for the perpetrators.
- The response of the management and owners of the Bullets restaurant chain has been nothing short of exemplary. They have never suffered a tragedy such as this before, and their cooperation, comfort, and genuine care and concern has been a balm to our suffering. Honorable men and women all, and worthy of the respect I willingly bestow upon them.
- Our friends, co-workers, churches, community, and family have been remarkably supportive and helpful. Coming to the aid of a family in a time like this is a massive undertaking, and can sap the strength of everyone involved. Our friendships and relationships have been deepened through this experience, and we are honored to be acquainted with such wonderful and caring people.
- Without question, the local media have been more than cooperative, helpful, and I believe genuinely concerned in this matter. They have been willing to publish information about the scholarships set up in William's memory. Several radio stations broadcast from the restaurant location in order to generate interest and raise money. The news crews and beat reporters have been respectful, and of the highest calibre in reporting William's murder and the events surrounding it. My deepest thanks and gratitude go out to them for their fine work.
- And finally, the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for their leadership in prosecuting the case. A finer group of attorneys I have never encountered. They have a difficult job within the justice system, and they perform admirably in the face of those difficulties. Their Victim - Witness Assistance office has been especially helpful in guiding us through the maze of the system with which we must now deal. They are the one governmental office which no one should ever have to encounter, but we have been supported beyond measure by their expertise, their genuine concern, and by the other survivors of homicide who attend the local support group sponsored by this office.
The background for this page is provided by: