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Williams Claims Remorse For Killings, But Experts Are Skeptical

June 6, 1992 GMT

DETROIT (AP) _ Confessed serial killer Leslie Allen Williams says he’s sorry he killed four teen-age girls and wants to plead guilty to save their families further grief.

But experts on serial killers say that’s hogwash.

They say Williams is only sorry he was caught and is trying to manipulate events from behind bars. His statements to investigators and reporters are typical of serial killers, they say.

″These people are con men,″ said James Alan Fox, dean of the college of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston. ″I would suspect that what he’s trying to do now is fool us again.″

Williams, 38, was arrested May 24 after a passer-by allegedly saw him kidnap a woman from a cemetery. Police rescued the woman from the trunk of his car, and investigators said he initially denied committing any other crimes.

But when a tip led police to the body of 18-year-old Kami Villanueva the next day, detectives said Williams led them to the bodies of three other teen- age girls.

He also admitted to at least 11 sexual assaults and other crimes since his parole from prison in 1990. He earlier had been convicted of rape.

In an interview with The Flint Journal published Friday, Williams said he knows right from wrong and blamed the killings on uncontrollable impulses stemming from his childhood of sexual and physical abuse.

After each killing, Williams said, he cried and lay awake at night asking himself why he had done it.

″I don’t buy any of it,″ Fox said.

Fox and Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern, studied dozens of serial killers and interviewed several for their book, ″Mass Murder: America’s Growing Menace.″

″Once they’re apprehended, they can continue their celebrity status by making the newspaper and being on the 11 o’clock news,″ Levin said.

Investigators say Williams kept a ″scorecard″ on which he noted his victims’ physical appearance. Officers are sifting through a cache of cameras, crosses on chains, cloth patches, pins, film, matchbooks and other items found among Williams’ belongings.

So far, police have identified a ring as belonging to Villanueva. Investigators also found a photo of two other victims, sisters Michelle and Melissa Urbin. A fourth victim was identified as Cynthia Marie Jones.

″(Serial killers) collect these souvenirs the way normal people keep baseball cards,″ Levin said.

″They take these objects in order to help them reminisce about the good times they had while they were killing or torturing their victims.″

Williams, who’s in jail awaiting this week’s preliminary hearings on charges stemming from the four slayings and other crimes, told the Journal the sexual and physical abuse played a large role in making him who he is.

″I know I should be able to control everything inside of me,″ he said. ″But I say - hey, you take what I took daily as a 4-, 6-, 10-, 12-year-old ... and see if you can live with that the rest of your life. You just do not forget it.″

Fox said serial killers often have been abused as children, but that doesn’t fully explain their behavior.

″It’s an unfortunate fact that thousands of people, perhaps millions, have been abused as children,″ he said. ″And they don’t grow up to be killers, much less serial killers.″

Police, too, are skeptical about what Williams says.

″He says he’s told us everything, but there’s always the possibility that he hasn’t,″ said Capt. Glenn Watson of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. ″We’ve got to look into the possibility that he might be involved in something else.″

Williams has flunked parts of one lie detector test. His attorney, Lawrence Kaluzny, said Williams wants to take another.

Kaluzny said Williams has been concerned about how he has appeared in news accounts and wants to explain his case, to show the families of the victims that he’s telling the truth.

″Sociopaths are very needy people,″ Fox said. ″They need attention, that’s why he’s doing interviews.″

Williams said he made Michelle and Melissa Urbin sit on a blanket and talk with him before raping and killing them. ″They were nice girls,″ he said.

″They didn’t deserve to die, but I was so weak and I was afraid to go back to prison″ for raping them.

Fox said that statement also contains themes voiced by other serial killers. Attackers may kill victims to prevent them from going to the police, then say the murders were caused by some uncontrollable force - a claim Fox said usually isn’t true.

″They do have control over their actions,″ he said.