Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on May 31, 1992 · Page 12
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 12

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 31, 1992
Page 12
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12A THE DETROIT NEWS SUNDAY, MAY 31, 1992 Soundoff: Does Michigan need the death penalty? Why or why not? Tell us what you think. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. You can either fax your response at 222-2335; call the hotline at 222-2284 or 222-2287; or write Soundoff, The Detroit News, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, Mich., 48226. il A f 1 3 l " , ...... . i a 1 Victim's decision not to press charges in 1990 proved costly By Mike Martindale THE DETROIT NEWS Lawmen knew in November 1990 that admitted serial killer Leslie Allen Williams tried to rape a Brighton woman three months after his release from prison, but they were unable to lock him up. When the frightened victim refused to press charges, officials let the case drop despite having proof Williams was her assailant. So went yet another chance for authorities to stop Williams, who has spent nearly all his adult life in prison before admitting to a spree of at least eight rapes and four murders. "I am amazed at the number of possibilities there were to capture him," said Murray Burley, grandfather of slain Milford teen Cynthia Marie Jones. "The handle was there. That's what makes me sad and furious that this guy could turn the heads of our most expert law enforcement Many believe By Tarek Hamada THE DETROIT NEWS After reading story after story about Leslie Allen Williams' methodical murders of at least four women, Marie Giles of Livonia had had enough. Williams should be put to death, she told her husband, Mark. "My husband and I agree that there should be a death penalty for him," Giles said. "He had been in jail before, and he was not rehabilitated. I'm a Christian, and I believe in forgiving. But certain crimes are not as forgivable as others." Williams' shocking slaying spree has the Giles family and other Michi - tf-' "' -V" H Inn lilt ' - - ff I ! - -' i '' , . ; '. I vw ,7 - Mourners pay last respects to Michelle and Melissa Urbin at a Fenton . . 1 r i Urbin: Family imds measure i r i AJ rn4.. of relief in knowing girls fate From page 1A "The first month (after their disappearance), there were a lot of people calling, saying they had spotted" the children, said their father, Patrick Urbin. "At first, I believed them." So much that he and his son, George, would drive to some of the reported sightings and sit in their car, hoping to spot the girls passing by- But all that passed were the hours. "After a while, I quit getting my hopes up when someone called," Patrick Urbin said. ; Williams, a 38-year-old career . criminal, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday for murdering the Urbin sisters. He also has admitted killing two other young women, raping a 9-year-old, kidnapping a woman and sexually assaulting other women who did not report the attacks. Kathryn Urbin does not know if she will attend the arraignment. While she is curious about her daughters' final hours, she isn't certain she wants to hear about them. Still, she said, she holds no anger for the paroled sex offender. "He said he shouldn't have been on the streets," Urbin id. "Some officers." Oakland County Sheriff John Nichols, who last week blasted the state parole system for freeing Williams in 1990, on Saturday dismissed criticism of local police as "Monday morning quarterbacking." But for more than a year after his latest parole on Aug. 15, 1990, Williams had repeated brushes with police and corrections officials. He was allowed to slip through every time. "They were dragging their feet all the way," said Van Rogers of Tyrone Township, a neighbor and friend of the family of teens Melissa and Michelle Urbin, who were killed by Williams in September 1991. "They just wrote it off, just let it slip through," he said. In their defense, authorities said they can't force people to testify or track every known offender in society. "There was a time when if you were on parole and fell off a bar stool or got in trouble, you'd find yourself slaying spree gan ians wondering if their state should drop its traditional resistance to the death penalty. In 1846, Michigan became the first government in the English-speaking world to ban it. Former Oakland County Prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson and other death penalty advocates report receiving many calls from outraged constituents asking them to push harder for capital punishment. Patterson who has led unsuccessful efforts to repeal the state's constitutional ban on executions said his law office received "probably 40 or 50 calls" Friday from people who want to re-institute the death penalty. "The calls have been coming in all day. The callers want to get involved thing is wrong with him mentally and he needs help. The system is the one that let him go. That's what needs changing." Sitting with her husband, son, and 10-year-old daughter, Mary, Kathryn Urbin said she hoped families of all of Williams' victims would be able to resume their lives. Though Williams is accused of killing four, she said, many more lives were destroyed in the wake of his violence. "It's not just four little girls," she said. "It's three families. It's all their friends, the kids they went to school with. It's every town they grew up in." A week ago, a private investigator called the Urbins and told them he would help them search for their daughters if they needed assistance. He warned however, that if the kids had been abducted, their chances of survival were slim. Kathryn Urbin told him she had been bracing for that reality for nearly eight months. "All I wanted was to know," she said. "I wanted to know if they were alive or not. If they were thinking about us. It was eight months of agony. "Then God decided it was time to give us an answer. Now, I think, our lives can get settled again back in jail," Nichols said. "But I think those days are long gone." Nichols said investigators "did more than is expected" to try to jail Williams in November 1990, in a case that raises questions both about police policies and victims' responsibility. On Nov. 28, 1990, a Brighton woman in her 20s stopped about 5 p.m. to use a pay phone at a gasoline station at Grand River and Kent Lake west of New Hudson, said sheriffs Detective David Row. While at the pay phone, a man ran up from behind, grabbed her and warned her he had a knife. The woman fought back, drawing the attention of attendants. Williams jumped in his car and drove off. But witnesses took down a license plate number, which Row said was registered to Leslie Allen Williams, who lived in a Wixom apartment at the time. "I found he was on parole at the time," Row said. "Nobody's very is cause for reversing state's on this issue some of them for first time." said Patterson, an attorney.' "We log the calls and direct them to somebody inside the political system like (current Oakland County Prosecutor) Richard Thompson." Sen. Gilbert DiNello, D-East Detroit, said he also has received calls in support of a change in the law. "Whenever they see something like the Williams story in the media, they get hyped up," he said. "The people want this sort of thing (capital punishment), but it has never been on the ballot." Petition drives in 1986 and 1990 failed to gather sufficient signatures for the issue to be put on the state ballot. It would take at least 256,457 valid signatures from registered vot '"Nik,.: . Tw DAVID SUROWIECKIThe Detroit Newi funeral home on Saturday. Funeral arrangements rr:X i. mass for sisters Michelle Urbin, 1 6, and Melissa Urbin, 14, will begin at ustSSSSSr Visitation is from 2-5 p.m. today at Fenton Chapel of Bowles-Sharp Funeral Home, 1000 Silver Lake, Fenton, and from 7-9 tonight at St. John's Catholic Church. Burial will be in St. John's Cemetery, Fenton. Memorial contributions may be sent to the REACH Runaway Program, 914 Church, Flint, Mich. 48502. Jones: Funeral services for Cynthia Marie Jones, 15, will begin at 1 p.m. Monday at Milford Presbyterian Church, 238 N. Main, Milford. Visitation is 1-9 p.m. today at Richardson-Bird Chapel of Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty, Milford. The body is to be cremated. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Milford High School chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving, In care of Diane Douglass, 2380 S. Milford, Highland Township, Mich. 48357. Villanueva: Kami Villanueva, 1 8, of South Lyon will be memorialized at 3 p.m. Monday at Casterline Funeral Home, 122 W. Dunlap, North-ville. Visitation will be from 1 1 a.m. to 9 p.m. today at the funeral home. Burial will be In Glen Eden Memorial Park, Livonia. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Kami Villanueva Fund, D&N Bank of South Lyon, 419 S. Lafayette, No. 5, South Lyon, Mich. 481 78 CHARLES V.TINESThe Detroit News Williams leaves court in Walled Lake Friday wearing a bulletproof vest after his arraignment on rape and murder charges. committal at the parole office, but after some conversation, they agree that he's probably the same guy. "I wanted to do a photo lineup and get him back in prison where he belongs." But the woman failed to appear for the lineup at the Lyon Township substation, and Row arranged for an appointment at her house. When he arrived, the woman and her mother refused to cooperate. "I pleaded with them," Row said. "I told them, if you don't do some ers to put a constitutional issue on the ballot. News of the Williams murders "makes me wish my capital punishment drive had been successful," Patterson said. "The guy is your classic psychotic, and capital punishment is designed for his kind of serial crimes." DiNello said Williams and other serial killers should be executed because society must make the statement that these crimes are abominable. "People like Leslie Williams deserve to die," he said. But death penalty foes such as Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the threat of capital punishment would Sister: Williams' youth filled From pag 1A The mother, Dorothy Williams, had two daughters with her first husband, Donald Lashbrook. She married Lyle Sr. and had three sons, including Leslie. She later moved to California with third husband James Adams, who murdered her when Leslie Allen Williams was 9. Family members say they haven't known Lyle Sr.'s whereabouts since 1968 and don't know if he's alive. Williams' confession opened old wounds of child abuse in his siblings from Metro Detroit to northern Michigan to California. The eldest of the five children, Lashbrook detailed the mistreatment of the youngsters who lived in the Alvin Street home. "Leslie'B father was very perverted," Lashbrook said. "He sexually molested my younger sister and I." She does not know if Leslie Williams was sexually abused. "He was a beautiful, sensitive boy with long, blond ringlets," she said. "But Lyle senior was vicious toward him. He would yank him around by the hair." Lashbrook recalled an incident in which she, at about age 7, accidentally broke a model car. Lyle Williams Sr. lined up the five children to find the culprit. Lashbrook was too afraid to confess and remained silent. But Leslie, then a toddler, said he did it. Lyle Sr. savagely beat him with "a strap, boards and his hand," Lashbrook recalled. She said he also once shaved her younger sister's head, at age 5, because she admitted sawing a small notch in his work bench. Another time, Lashbrook's stepfather bumed gifts she received from her grandparents because he didn't want the grandparents involved in the children's lives. "I remember he burned my red, upholstered rocking chair from them and made me watch," she said. There were clues to outsiders that life was not right at the home. "I tried to get away," Lashbrook said. "I took my younger sister with me, and we went to my grandmother's house on the other side of Garden City. "Unfortunately, they returned us." She hadn't told them about the sexual abuse because her stepfather had threatened her. In 1957, police raided the Garden City home. Lashbrook said her stepfather also involved two neighbor boys in his sexual perversions. One neighbor boy told his mother, and she told police. Leslie Williams was nearly 4 when police came one night and took all five children away. y thing, he's going to do this again. "They said that wasn't their problem." Oakland Prosecutor Richard Thompson said there is little recourse when victims and witnesses refuse to cooperate. "A horrible situation exists where people feel defendants have more rights in the courtroom than the victim, and the victim ends up in court feeling more like a defendant," he said. execution ban have done nothing to stop Williams. "Leslie Williams is not a rational calculator," Simon said. "I think it's clear to everybody that his actions are the actions of a disturbed and sick individual. The absence of a death penalty is not the reason why those four young people were killed." Moreover, Williams' previous convictions for breaking and entering and sexual assault were not capital crimes, Simon said. "He did not have a previous conviction for homicide," Simon said. Because Williams is disturbed, avenging him for his crimes by executing him wbuld be inhumane, he said. "No civilized society puts sick people to death," he said. "They took us to a detention home in Detroit," she said. "The five of us huddled in a room with three beds all night. "I was 9. 1 held Jay (the youngest), who was about 18 months old. He shook all night." All the children were removed from the home for a while, and both parents served prison time. Leslie Williams and his older brother Lyle went to live with their grandparents. "My grandmother adored Leslie," Lashbrook said. "He was very bright." But the children were returned to their mother, who by then lived in Dearborn Heights and continued flagrant prostitution, Lashbrook said. Neighbors knew what was going on, she said. And she believed Leslie knew, too. In about 1961, Dorothy Williams married James Adams and 'they moved to southern California with Leslie and young Lyle. "Adams hated Leslie as well because he was so attached to my mother," Lashbrook said. "When his mother was murdered, Leslie's whole world again was shattered." Lashbrook said she remained Leslie's champion, even through the first rape he committed in 1975. "Later, I realized that, regardless of what he went through as a child, he was a rapist and I am a woman," she said. Lashbrook stopped communicating with Williams in 1984. "I had gone back to Michigan to see him," Lashbrook said. "I remember we were in my brother Lyle's van, going back to the airport. "I was in the back talking to Leslie and, all of a sudden, Leslie turned away from me and went into a trance-like state. "I saw something in his eyes that terrified me. And I knew he wasn't like the rest of us." When they parted, Lashbrook, in an older-sisterly way, urged iim to LjLf i , Confession a final act of control? By Ann Sweeney THE DETROIT NEWS j Confronted with the fact of one I slaying, Leslie Allen Williams quick-; ly admitted to three more. He now frankly asks society to ; lock him up and throw away the key, I rejecting talk of bond or any notion ; of denying his guilt. Experts in deviant criminal be- havior say that such apparent contri-tion may be a final act of control, as well as an effort to manipulate the -system for better treatment. "We're talking about a con mm here," said Daniel Kennedy, a crimi-; nal justice professor at the UniversH ty of Detroit Mercy. "It's his confes-; sion. He puts the spin on it. He's controlling the situation. ' "If remorse is expected, he'll pro-', vide it." Admission of guilt can even pro- vide one more shot at revenge, added '. Robert Homant, formerly a Jackson; Prison psychologist and now a crimi- nal justice professor at U-D Mercy. "Remember, the killer doesn't,1 personalize his victims," Homant; said. "They're just symbols of what-r ever he's angry at. A confession is a ' chance to hammer it all home, see it blown out on the media and prove he's still in control." Admitting guilt may in fact be- ; come an end in itself, as illustrated by the case of Texas mass murderer ; Henry Lee Lucas. He had perhaps; the longest confession on record, and for a time, the largest victim tally. ! In 1983, Lucas was convicted of, killing an elderly woman. Before he; finished confessing, Lucas had ad-; mitted to 210 unsolved murders. Authorities finally concluded he liked the limelight. Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a forensic psychiatrist at Wayne State University, said admissions need not be taken as holy writ. "He'll confess to whatever fits his self-image," Tanay said. with violence Leslie Allen Williams has admitted committing four murders and raping at least eight other women. put crime in his past. "I think it was a week-and-a-half : later that he abducted the woman by ; threatening her with a screwdriver," Lashbrook said. "When I got that phone call, it was over. That's when I .: severed the tie." Two years ago, when Michigan's ; prison system was readying to release Williams, Lashbrook recalled the ter-; rifying trance. "I spent a lot of time on the phone with my uncle (James Jardine in Michigan) saying, 'They can't let him out of prison. They just can't.'" In the 21 months since his release, Williams had rented a home and held down two jobs. Relatives, who were then unaware of his series of rapes and killings since the release, were expecting his arrival in California. Williams had phoned his grandmother and asked her to prepare his favorite childhood meals: steak and kidney pie and London tea cakes. Reached at her Whittier, Calif., home Friday, Williams' 81-year-old grandmother said: "I feel so badly." Then she added a sad, soul-searching thought. "I wonder if it's because we spoiled him," she said. By anyone else's account, she and her husband were among the few who treated Williams well. And that handful of supporting relatives had high hopes that Williams finally was turning his life around. "Everybody was expecting me to see him when he came here," Lashbrook said. "They said now is the time to bury things. He's a model citizen. He's changed." But Lashbrook said she was panicked at the prospect. "I have a 7-year-old daughter," , she said. "I went to a travel agent and 1 thought about coming to Michigan while he was here." Detroit Newt Staff Writer Bonnie DeSimone contributed to this report.

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