Local News

Police Charge Man in One of Six Raleigh Slayings

Posted February 6, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A 35-year-old homeless man charged Wednesday with murder in connection with one of the six slayings of Raleigh women last year, has been arrested several times in recent months on a variety of charges.

John Williams Jr., charged in the slaying of Deborah Jean Elliott, 35, whose body was found Dec. 26, 1996, was arrested six blocks from the scene of that crime as, police say, he was attacking a woman with a box cutter. He was also arrested January 4, 1997 and charged with first-degree rape. Williams has three December, 1996 arrests on his record.

James McGill, a counselor at the Raleigh Homeless Shelter where Williams once lived, said he was evicted from there.

McGill says Williams first showed up at the shelter in November of 1995. He was evicted twice that year, and returned just a few weeks before Elliott's dealth.

Elliott was one of six women, all black and in their 30s, who were killed between Jan. 7, 1996, and Dec. 27, 1996. In January, police charged Leman Evans, 60, of 212 Hill Street, with first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 17, 1996 ,death of Dewanna Burt. Burt, 36, was found with a gunshot wound to the head in a parking lot on Poole Road.

Police said they do not know whether Williams was involved in any of the other killings of sexual assaults. They will not discuss evidence they have against him.

``We haven't discounted it,'' Major Otis Hinton said. ``We're continuing our investigation into the others.''

Williams was arrested Tuesday night in the heart of the area where four of the women's bodies were found, alongside railroad tracks cutting through downtown's west side. The area has been plagued by prostitution and drug dealing.

All of the slain women were poor and rootless; police say they all had ties to the drug scene, and four of them were prostitutes.

Police said they caught Williams Tuesday noght as he was attacking a woman in a parking lot.

Hinton refused to discuss that attack, but in an arrest warrant, detectives said Williams assaulted the woman with a box cutter. He was booked at the Wake County Jail early Wednesday on a charge of first-degree attempted rape and felonious assault.

He is being held without bail.

Williams is from Augusta, Ga., and showed up in Raleigh as early as last winter. Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.