Here is a great story about Michael Wayne Williams, who was almost caught in the act of killing his wife, and he claims he is innocent.
ON THE ONE-YEAR anniversary of his wife’s mysterious death, Michael Wayne Williams sat in the Atlantic County Jail with a wedding ring on his finger, a stack of investigative files under his arm, and a whole lot of trouble on his mind.
Wanted for allegedly raping a woman at knifepoint in Wildwood on April 21, 2009, Williams was arrested the following day outside a Middle Township, N.J., hotel. When police went inside his room, they found his wife, Ebony Flanders, dead.
Flanders’ family blames Williams, a man authorities say has used 10 aliases and seven Social Security numbers while amassing a lengthy criminal record, but he’s never been charged or named as a suspect. Williams said he loved his wife, despite his infidelities, and denies having anything to do with her death. His strongest denials centered on the rape charge, though, which could land him in prison for decades if he’s convicted.
“There are two things that I’m not, and that’s a rapist or a murderer,” the 30-year-old said Thursday from jail. “I’ve lost my wife and my freedom. It’s been pretty stressful.”
The Cape May Prosecutor’s Office told the Daily News that the cause and manner of death for Flanders remains undetermined and has said little else about the case over the last year.
“It’s a pending investigation, it’s an ongoing investigation, and that’s really all we can say about it,” said Capt. Eugene Taylor, of the prosecutor’s office.
Williams was set to go on trial Monday in Cape May County for the rape case, but that’s been pushed back because he was recently charged with witness tampering stemming from a letter he wrote in relation to the incident.
Police say that Williams posed as a social worker to gain entry to a woman’s apartment in Wildwood on the afternoon of April 21, 2009. Once inside, they say he brandished a 12-inch kitchen knife, took the woman into the bedroom, and raped her.
Williams admits to having sex with the woman and said it happened on three other occasions, all consensually. He claims the woman invited him in, offered to make him spaghetti and meatballs, and led him into the bedroom. He thinks she fabricated the incident after her boyfriend showed up and grew suspicious.
“I’m being set up,” he said.
According to investigative reports Williams obtained through discovery, the woman’s young daughter said she witnessed the rape through a hole in a wall and by looking beneath the bedroom door. When investigators inspected the apartment, according to a report that Williams showed a reporter, a dresser was blocking the hole in the wall and nothing could be seen by looking through the crack between the floor and the door.
The girl also said she was screaming while Williams chased her around the apartment with the knife when she threatened to call police. At some point during the incident, the woman’s boyfriend knocked on the apartment door and left when Williams answered and told him the woman wasn’t available.
The boyfriend was also there later when Williams returned to retrieve a cell phone he had left. The victim’s boyfriend never mentions in the report that he heard screaming when he knocked, Williams said, or that anyone had seemed upset when he returned to the home later.
“Wouldn’t this little girl have been traumatized and sobbing after seeing mommy raped and having a guy chase her around the house with a big knife?” the father of four asked.
Williams also pointed to a letter, written in October, in which a neighbor said the alleged victim told him she had made the incident up. When investigators followed up on it though, the man said he had written the letter because Williams was going to help him get bailed out of jail.
Williams’ attorney, Stephen Patrick, did not return multiple phone calls for comment over the last several months, but said in a prior hearing in Cape May County, that the rape case against Williams was not as “airtight” as prosecutors claimed.
Shelina Flanders, Ebony’s sister, said she received a letter from Williams recently and she stared at it for weeks before getting up the nerve to open it.
“He said he was innocent, he asked how the kids were, and he was asking if I could send him pictures of Ebony,” said Flanders, 31. “I made a copy of it and gave it to police. I believe he’s guilty. I think he did it.”
Flanders said neither investigators nor the Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office seem to know how her sister died. Flanders said there were no visible signs of trauma found during the autopsy and toxicology testing found nothing in her sister’s system.
“They said they’ve tried everything they could. They even sent specimens to the FBI,” she said.
Lt. Lynne Frame, of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, said in an e-mail that the “manner of death is undetermined,” but did not mention the cause. On Thursday, Williams said the prosecutor’s office had cleared him of any wrongdoing in the death of his wife, claiming she had died of natural causes.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “She stopped breathing in her sleep.”
When asked to respond to Williams’ claim, Frame said “the investigation into the death of Ebony Flanders is ongoing and the cause of her death is undetermined.”
The Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office referred all phone calls to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice. That office had not responded to a public-information request filed earlier this week to the cause and manner of Ebony’s death.
Meanwhile, Shelina Flanders continues to raise three of her sister’s seven children, and can’t move past images of Ebony, dead in a hotel room, with a man Shelina said she wanted to divorce.
“It’s really mind-boggling that we’re on a year now and we don’t have closure,” she said. “We still have no idea what happened to my sister.”