PINE BLUFF (AP) - An inmate sentenced to death for a killing committed during a 1999 escape from a sentence for an earlier slaying has confessed to yet another killing in a letter to the editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial.
Along with a man killed in a traffic accident in Missouri during inmate Kenneth D. Williams' 1999 escape, the slaying to which he has now confessed would make him responsible for the deaths of four people.
Williams, 26, says in a 512-page letter to the newspaper that he shot and killed Jerrell Jenkins, 36, of Pine Bluff on Dec. 13, 1998, the same day that he fatally shot Dominique Hurd, a cheerleader at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Police had listed Jenkins' death as unsolved.
"I take full responsibility for my actions and whatever consequences my peers see fit," Williams wrote.
Williams said he was a born-again Christian and wanted to confess his sins.
He was convicted of kidnapping and killing Hurd, and of kidnapping and assaulting her date, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. While serving that sentence at the Cummins Unit of the state prison system in Lincoln County, he escaped on Oct. 3, 1999.
After 57-year-old farmer Cecil Boren was slain at his home near the prison, Williams fled to Missouri in Boren's truck, and was captured near Urbana after an accident that killed Culligan delivery driver Michael Greenwood, 24, of Springfield, Mo.
Williams was tried and convicted for Boren's slaying, and sentenced to death. He is awaiting the outcome of an appeal of that verdict.
"For a long time I was in denial of the things I had done," Williams wrote. "I couldn't believe it myself. How can someone go five years in denial of something that they obviously did. I have killed or caused the death of four people in my life."
The Commercial provided a copy of Williams' letter to police detectives. Police Lt. Terry Hopson and Sgt. Danny Belvedresi met with Williams on Tuesday at the prison system's Varner Supermax Unit near the Cummins unit.
Hopson said the inmate declined to make a formal statement in the death of Jenkins, saying only that "the letter to the newspaper spoke for itself."
"I wish we would have more people write letters confessing to some of our unsolved homicides," Hopson said after the meeting, indicating he believed that Williams killed Jenkins. "The bottom line is, I don't think we will have to go looking for a suspect in the Jenkins killing."
In a note attached to the letter, Williams said he was aware that he could be charged with an additional murder. Hopson said he would discuss with prosecutors whether Williams would be charged in Jenkins' death.
Larry A. Sullivan, editor of The Commercial, said it was gratifying that the newspaper "can help solve a homicide, and it appears that may be the case in this instance."
Jenkins, whose body was found in a ditch by a youngster walking to school, had been shot to death. Williams claimed in his letter that he killed Jenkins with two shots from a .357-caliber handgun.
Sgt. Bob Rawlinson, Pine Bluff police spokesman, said he had not spoken with detectives working on the case to find out if Williams' account of Jenkins' death matched information compiled by investigators.
But Rawlinson said the detectives' trip to prison Tueday to interview Williams indicated that they were taking seriously his claim of responsibility for Jenkins' death.
Williams said he wrote the letter to restore a broken relationship with his family and society.
"Confession is a powerful tool for reconciliation," he wrote. "When you begin by humbly admitting your mistakes, it defuses the other person's anger and disarms their attack because they were probably expecting you to be defensive. I don't want to make any excuses or shift the blame. I just want to be honest and accept responsibility for my actions."
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