By Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas Chicago Tribune
Over the course of multiple days, authorities allege, a man with a history of kidnapping and violence toward children held his roommate and her daughter against their will — repeatedly cutting them with a butcher knife — because the woman told him the landlord demanded he move out.
Donald Williams, 38, was unable to appear before Judge David Navarro Sunday because he was in the burn unit at University of Chicago Medical Center with second-degree burns to his chest and arms after a fire Williams allegedly set at the conclusion of the harrowing dayslong ordeal, during which police and an investigator for the Department of Children and Family Services came and went, unable to immediately help the woman and her daughter.
Williams had been charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful restraint, one count of aggravated domestic battery and one count of aggravated arson.
“There will be a finding of physical incapacity as to Donald Williams,” Navarro said at the outset of the case, since Williams was unable to appear and his court-appointed attorney had been unable to speak with him.
Williams was on parole for a 2008 armed aggravated kidnapping case detailed in court Sunday— which has similarities to his new charges, including allegedly kidnapping the teen relative of his ex-girlfriend. He is being held on a parole hold by the Illinois Department of Corrections, said Tandra Simonton, a spokesperson for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
“(Williams) is on parole for an aggravated kidnapping conviction and IDOC lodged a parole hold. He cannot be released even if bail is posted,” Simonton explained in an email.
Navarro, who lamented that he could not hold Williams without bail because of the parole hold, set bail at $1 million.
“I believe he poses a threat to the community,” Navarro said. “Set the bond at $1 million cash. My intention, to be clear, is that he’s not to be released.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Linda Patton said the 31-year-old victim knew Williams through her boyfriend and allowed him to move into her apartment in May, but her landlord recently informed her he could no longer live there. When the woman told Williams last Tuesday that he would need to move out, he allegedly got on top of her and started punching her in the face and her body with a closed fist, all while the woman’s daughter looked on and screamed for him to stop, the prosecutor said.
“(He) obtained a butcher knife and began to poke and slash Victim 1 about her head, arms and legs with the knife. … he then stabbed (her) in the right thigh,” Patton said. “(He) then began yelling and asking her questions. When she did not answer in the way he wanted her to, he would then poke and slash Victim 2, her 11-year-old daughter, with the same butcher knife.”
Patton said the woman and her daughter were held in the apartment, in the 1400 block of East 79th Street in Grand Crossing on the Far South Side, unable to leave the living room area. By Wednesday morning, the woman was allowed to call in to work and call her daughter out of school, but they were still being held against their will, the prosecutor said. At some point Wednesday, the 31-year-old was allowed to go to a hospital for treatment of the wound on her thigh, but she was not allowed to take her daughter out of the apartment, according to Patton.
“The hospital could not provide stitches for Victim 1 to close the stab wound because it had been an open wound for too long. They taped up her wound and she returned to the apartment without reporting this to the hospital out of fear for her daughter’s safety, who was still being held at the apartment by (Williams). However, while at the hospital (she) did text her landlord that they needed help and were being held at the apartment against their will,” Patton said.
On Thursday the 11-year-old was allowed to go to school, the prosecutor said. Police were called to the apartment that afternoon, but Williams allegedly did not let the woman open the door to authorities, Patton said, forcing her to “speak to officers through the door.” She allegedly told police what Williams told her to say, and the officers left, Patton said.
Later that same day, someone from DCFS investigations also came to the apartment and Williams reportedly allowed the investigator to come in, according to the prosecution.
“There were times during that conversation when (Williams) was looking away from them that (she) would mouth to the investigator that she needed help,” Patton said.
The investigator tried to get the woman to leave the apartment with her, but Williams allegedly said the woman couldn’t leave because of the wound to her thigh, Patton said. The investigator eventually left without the woman and went to her daughter’s school.
Later that night the investigator returned with police officers, and they were able to get the woman and her daughter out of the building.
The woman and girl were taken to Trinity Hospital, where they had been listed in good condition.
But when police went up to the apartment to arrest him, Williams had reportedly barricaded himself inside the apartment, where he stayed for another 10 hours — well into Friday morning — according to Chicago police.
Around 4 a.m. Friday he allegedly intentionally set a fire in the apartment building, which burned severely enough that seven people were unable to return to their units, authorities said. Police said he then jumped from a third-story window, suffering unknown injuries in the process. No one else was hurt in the fire, officials said.
Williams was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center for treatment and placed under arrest, police said.
In court Sunday, Patton also detailed some of Williams’ criminal history. She said he was arrested for domestic battery in 2007 after allegedly grabbing his teenage girlfriend by the neck and pulling their 2-month-old baby from her arms, causing the baby to break an arm and a leg, Patton said.
And he had been sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of the 2008 aggravated kidnapping while armed charge.
“In that case, he grabbed the 14-year-old sister of his ex-girlfriend, held a knife to her throat and forced his way into their apartment and held her there for 11 hours,” Patton said.
Original article: chicagotribune.com