Man who killed five, hid bodies in mobile home gets life

Oct. 1, 2004

Court TV


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) A man pleaded guilty Thursday to killing his estranged wife and four other people who came to his home over an 11-day period in the northeast Florida fishing village of Mayport.

Asked if he understood that he would die in prison, William Wells, 27, responded: "Yes, your honor." Circuit Judge Henry Davis immediately sentenced Davis to five consecutive life terms.

Wells had said at previous hearings that he wanted to be executed but later changed his mind.

He was arrested after a police standoff in May 2003. He released his 4-year-old son before police entered the mobile home near Jacksonville and found five bodies in various stages of decomposition.

Killed were his wife Irene Wells, 30, father-in-law Bill McMains, 60, brother-in-law John S. McMains, 32, and acquaintances Richard L. Reese, 39, and James L. Young, 20.

State Attorney Harry Shorstein said Wells' attorney offered the plea and he agreed because the victims' families wanted the case to be over. Psychologists who examined Wells differed on his mental health.

Wells told the judge he is taking anti-psychotic medicines.

Attorney Gonzalo Andux said his client regrets the killings, calling him "remorseful from day one."

About a month after the killings, a caller believed to be Wells confessed and outlined them in a call to The Florida Times-Union.

The caller said he accidentally shot his wife and later shot her brother when he came to the house and got angry about her death. He said he shot his father-in-law a few days later under similar circumstances.

The caller said he suspected Reese was having an affair with his wife, so he invited him over, smoked marijuana with him, then shot and strangled him.

The caller said he killed Young after he delivered crack cocaine and made a remark about getting a gun and stealing a bag of marijuana.