Tillsonburg senior fatally beaten in Florida jail cell
Instead of heading to a mental hospital as ordered by a Florida court, a Tillsonburg octogenarian charged in a bizarre luring case was found beaten to death in a jail cell.
Arthur Williams, 82, charged in October in northern Florida, was found mentally unfit to stand trial Jan. 5 and was ordered to be placed in treatment once a bed was available, court documents show.
Monday, his body was found in a cell in the maximum security wing of the Jackson County Correctional Facility.
“My observation is that he died of blunt force trauma,” Chief Hayes Baggett of the Marianna police department, which is investigating the case, said Tuesday.
“No weapons were used that we can tell from the search of the cell.”
Frederick Patterson III, 21
The man who shared the two-person cell with Williams, Frederick Patterson III, 21, of Brunswick, Ga., has been charged with an open count — what level hasn’t been determined yet — of murder.
Patterson, whose neck is tattooed with “Tap Out,” a mixed martial arts term, had been moved to the Jackson County facility last fall.
Prior to his transfer, Patterson was finishing a five-year sentence for burglary and trafficking in stolen property, He was awaiting trial for murder in the October 2015 death of another cellmate at the Apalachee Correctional Institution, also in Florida.
The cellmate, Scott Collinsworth, was found in a pool of blood in the cell he shared with Patterson. News reports said Patterson admitted to beating Collinsworth to death after Collinsworth exposed himself. Collinsworth was struck repeatedly with fists, feet, elbows and knees until he lost consciousness, the reports say.
Baggett said he understood that Patterson’s murder trial was to start in a couple of weeks.
Williams, whose arrest made headlines last fall, finalized his court proceedings on Jan. 5 after he was found mentally unfit to stand trial on loitering, trespassing, luring, stalking and giving false information to police charges.
A sixth charge of a false bomb threat was dropped by the prosecutor in November.
There was never any explanation why he was in Florida. He was charged in October after the mother of a nine-year-old boy told police her fiance asked a stranger in a burgundy car to leave from outside their home.
They believed the man was trying to lure the boy into the car.
The boy had seen the car several times by a bus stop and driving by his house, a driver trying to coax him into the vehicle.
Florida state troopers had tracked the car and found it heading the wrong way on a highway before pulling it over. The driver made “off-the-wall” comments and gave “deceptive responses” to police.
He told police he was in the real-estate business and wanted to buy a house. He denied ever trying to contact the boy before the officer even mentioned a child. The driver said the police needed to “walk away” from the situation.
Williams remained in custody at the 320-bed detention facility — it operates much the same as London’s provincial jail, the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, as a holding facility for accused people – until his death.
Mark Foreman, the chief of corrections at the Jackson County facility, confirmed Williams was Patterson’s cellmate in the maximum security unit.
There are two people in each cell on the eight-person unit that is reserved for inmates charged with serious offences. That compares to the general population unit that has 36 cells, with eight inmates in each cell, he said.
They had been placed in the cell together at the usual 11 p.m. curfew. They were checked every hour – at midnight, 1 a.m. and at 2 a.m., when Williams’s body was discovered.
Patterson was removed from the cell and placed in another part of the jail. Williams was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy is pending.
Foreman said it was the “first inmate death of this type at this facilty” since the jail opened in 1992.
Counselling has been offered to the inmates and jail staff, he said, and he contacted the Canadian consulate in Miami to help find Williams’ family.
Baggett confirmed that the family has been notified and that one of his officers had spoken to Williams’ daughter.
“There’s no doubt who done it,” he said. There is video evidence what happened at the jail. of Patterson and Williams entering the cell and “one person coming out.”
He said Patterson also gave a statement in which he confessed.
Baggett said the beating was particularly brutal, calling it “one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.”
He couldn’t explain why the jail would place a mentally ill senior citizen in the same cell as a young man facing a jailhouse murder charge.
“I don’t know their system of classification,” he said, adding, “It didn’t work out very well.”