Local News

Investigators searched Raleigh home in Florida woman's death

Posted June 3, 2016 11:14 a.m. EDT
Updated June 3, 2016 1:05 p.m. EDT

— Florida investigators last week searched the Raleigh home of an airman who has admitted to killing his ex-wife and dumping her remains in a Florida nature preserve, according to search warrants released Thursday.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Williams is serving a 35-year prison sentence for second-degree murder in the death of Tricia Todd Williams. Steven Williams is assigned as a field training detachment instructor at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, but authorities said he lives at 5160 Busted Rock Trail in east Raleigh.

Detectives from the Martin County Sheriff's Office in Florida searched the Raleigh home on May 23, searching for evidence that Steven Williams had been planning to kill his former wife. Tricia Williams was reported missing on April 27 after she failed to pick up their 2-year-old daughter from a babysitter's house in Hobe Sound, Fla.

Investigators had interviewed Steven Williams several times in May and found him to be untruthful about the last time he had seen his former wife, according to an application for the search warrant. Someone who lives near the home Steven Williams had been renting in Hobe Sound while he was in town to visit his daughter saw him driving Tricia Williams' car the night before she was reported missing, and video from various security cameras in the area showed a man matching Steven Williams' description walking near her residence a few hours later, according to the application.

Steven Williams agreed to take a polygraph test during the investigation, but investigators said they later found a text message he had sent to his girlfriend referencing a drug used to try to defeat a lie-detector, according to the application.

Florida authorities seized three computers, a separate hard drive, two rifles, three handguns, three ammunition magazines and a few other items during the May 23 search, the warrant states.

A few days later, Steven Williams reached a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a 35-year sentence in exchange for leading investigators to Tricia Williams' body.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said last Friday that investigators found partial remains of Tricia Williams inside a container that was filled with a liquid believed to be acid and was buried at Hungryland State Preserve, near Jupiter, Fla. Forensic experts in subsequent days recovered other remains from the area believed to belong to her.

Snyder said evidence shows Tricia Williams had been dismembered with a chain saw, but investigators haven't determined how or where she was killed.

Authorities said they might get the plea deal nullified if they cannot locate all of Tricia Williams' remains.