This story is from Oct. 27, 2011
APALACHICOLA - When Norman Bill Williams, Jr. fled the woods outside Eastpoint where he was released from prison, he did not ride off into a new horizon, towards a quiet life of anonymity.
Instead, the 56-year-old fugitive found his way to the heart of Cajun country, a tiny Louisiana town on the Gulf south of New Orleans, a familiar place where he was both well-known and not well-liked.
Wearing a clumsy disguise he hoped would keep him from being spotted, Williams failed to fool an alert employee at Griffin’s Station Marina, a small fuel dock in Leeville, about 19 miles from Grand Isle.
“He wore a welding hat, and nobody wears that unless you’re a welder. It’s a really fruity hat to wear,” said a marina employee, who asked not to be named. “And he had little round glasses, not reading glasses, the kind people wear to look like they’re smart.”
Law enforcement officers and an informal network of fishing industry people had sent word to Louisianans to be on the lookout for Williams, ever since the former prison inmate, on conditional, supervised release, had disarmed his ankle bracelet and absconded Sept. 24 before registering as a sexual predator with his Florida probation officer.
It wasn’t long before word spread on the bayous that jut deep into the Gulf of Mexico.
So when Williams bought a six-pack and chicken breast at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 10.at the tiny fuel dock grocery, which caters to commercial fishermen and oil field workers, he tipped his hand.
“I knew he might have been in the area when he came in. For two weeks he had been spotted at local bar up the road in Golden Meadow. He just showed up not even 10 minutes into town, and he climbed on that boat,” said the employee. “So I called back the man from Panama City. I really didn’t know what he was wanted for. Whenever I was (first) notified, the man wouldn’t tell me. I don’t think he told me the law was wanting him.”
The veteran employee knew well the man locals called “Big Bill” and asked the marina owner to telephone authorities just as Williams boarded one of the boats at the dock.
“That’s all we knew him as, because he was tall and built from a life in prison,” said the employee. “Over the years I was on the lookout for him.”
The marina worker said Williams had a frightening reputation, and would have been unlikely to have been hired by anyone familiar with it.
“He’s a piece of crap,” said the marina employee. “Over the years he’s come in and out and he always seems to want to find work. Every time he comes he always causes problems. He just stays on the dock and he’ll get drunk and hang out.”
The employee said “Big Bill” was known to drink vodka, and to blacken the eye of a woman he would stay with in Golden Meadow.
“He never gets on a boat,” the employee said. “All the years nobody hires him. He comes as a drifter and just causes trouble.”
Even worse, Williams had a reputation for trying to overpower the men who form the “community of drifters” who populate Leeville and Grand Isle.
“This little guy from Kentucky, he’s an alcoholic but he does no harm to anybody,” said the marina worker. “He sleeps on the dock and stays in an old building, a little fragile man. This guy was making sexual advances on him.
“He (Williams) tries to overpower them,” said the employee. “Three guys told me themselves. One guy chased him with a knife. A young fisherman from Florida had to fight him off in the early morning hours.”
An Oct. 12 news release said the office of Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre got a call from the U.S. Marshals Office in Florida indicating Williams was at a business in Leeville, seeking a job. Deputies from the sheriff’s office, along with officers from the Port Fourchon Harbor Police, proceeded to the business where they arrested Williams without incident.
“While it is not known how long Williams has been in the area, it is estimated he has likely been in Lafourche Parish for about two weeks,” read the news release, which referred to Williams’ “extensive criminal history, with numerous arrests stretching over several counties in Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. Prior arrests were for such crimes as armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, larceny, burglary, grand theft auto and drug possession.”
The news release said parish deputies arrested Williams in 2003 on contempt of court charges, and also charged him with misrepresentation during booking. He was held for nearly 24 days before being released for time served.
After being extradited back to Franklin County, Williams had his first appearance on Thursday morning, Oct. 20, in front of County Judge Van Russell, who placed him on a $25,000 bond for failing to register as a sexual predator. He was also held without bond on the absconding charge, a third degree felony that holds a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.
“I really don’t know, the U.S, Marshal says Florida keeps letting him go,” said the marina employee. “I was not aware what this guy was wanted for. I have a very bad temper and God knows what would have happened.
“They need to send him back around us and let the people take care of him, instead of the law,” said the employee. “I hope he won’t come back in our area; everybody’s going to notice. He better not show his face and be present.”