Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Murderer sent back to Arizona


Ronald T. Williams faces execution here after West Virginia’s governor agrees to extradition request.

Three-time murderer Ronald T. Williams will be sent from West Virginia to Arizona, where he faces execution.

Arizona Gov. Fife Symington received notice yesterday from West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton that Williams would be returned to Arizona.

West Virginia does not have the death penalty, and Caperton, a Democrat, opposes capital punishment because he does not believe it deters crime. Nonetheless, he is sending Williams, 52, back to Arizona, where he is scheduled to die by lethal injection Sept. 27 at a Florence prison.

Caperton said the decision was among the hardest he has ever made.

“History has proven the union of 50 unique and different states can only be preserved when each state has a respect of other states’ laws,’ Caperton told The Associated Press.

The extradition of Williams to Arizona had been requested by Symington, a Republican, who praised Caperton’s decision as placing “the interest of justice and respect for the U.S. Constitution above political concerns.’

Williams, convicted of killing a police officer in 1975, was serving a life sentence for murder when he escaped from a West Virginia penitentiary in 1979. During the breakout, Williams killed an off-duty state trooper.

During the morning of March 12, 1981, Williams kicked in the front door of a home in Scottsdale and began to burglarize it. A neighbor, 74-year-old John V. Bunchek, heard the commotion and confronted Williams, who shot Bunchek in the chest.

Williams was captured three months later after a shootout with FBI agents in New York City. After being convicted of Bunchek’s murder, Williams was returned to West Virginia.

“We are not discussing a typical American criminal,’ wrote Symington in a July 24 letter to Caperton urging that Williams be extradited. “Williams has escaped from authorities before and is said to have an IQ of 175. It seems clear that Williams would be a ruthless threat to any person with whom he came in contact. He is by all accounts one of the most extraordinarily menacing criminals alive.’

According to court records, Williams has escaped from prison eight times.

“The people of West Virginia, Arizona and every state will be much safer because of Governor Caperton’s decision today,’ said Symington.

However, a spokesman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said there are legal steps Williams can take that could delay his scheduled execution. An order Tuesday from the U.S. Supreme Court allows Williams more time to file a petition asking for a review of his case.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

Search site | Terms of service