Florida man jailed in nursing home homicide says he 'accomplished my life goal'
PORT ST. LUCIE — William Hawkins said he planned the murder of a 95-year-old man for several years and “used” the man’s girlfriend to get close to him.
“I accomplished my life goal, OK?” Hawkins said, according to case records. “Whatever happens to me after, that’s fine.”
Hawkins, 47, was arrested on a first-degree murder charge last week in connection with the Jan. 5 homicide of Robert W. Morell at Tiffany Hall Nursing & Rehab Center in Port St. Lucie.
Port St. Lucie police began investigating after reports a patient was “being hurt” by someone at the facility in the 1800 block of Southeast Hillmoor Drive.
“Police learned a nurse walked past the male patient’s room when she noticed an unknown male suspect sitting on top of the patient’s chest, holding a pillow over his face,” police stated.
The assailant got away.
Police began suspecting Hawkins shortly after Morell’s death after noting Hawkins, who was one of the visitors on Morell’s visitor list, possibly matched the description of the assailant supplied by Tiffany Hall staff.
Hawkins is identified in records as having been romantically involved with Morell's girlfriend, who at one point called Tiffany Hall and told the agency she didn’t want Hawkins visiting, according to statements.
Hawkins has listed addresses in Vero Beach and Fort Pierce.
A request was made Tuesday to speak with a detective, but Senior Sgt. Lisa Marie Carrasquillo, Port St. Lucie police spokeswoman, said police would not comment.
Records show the day after the killing, Hawkins was accused of other crimes and jailed, including the alleged theft of Morell’s girlfriend’s Cadillac. Police continued investigating Hawkins in connection with the death, as he was in the St. Lucie County Jail.
Hawkins’ sister on Jan. 7 — two days after the homicide — contacted police and said Hawkins had been calling their mother from jail, but they weren’t taking the calls. The sister told police if her brother committed the murder, she could get him to tell her what happened.
She told police she thought money probably was the reason behind the killing.
“She said when her father died, they were supposed to get a large inheritance and they didn’t,” records state.
Police gave Hawkins’ sister a recording device, and she visited Hawkins at the St. Lucie County jail.
“Did you put the pillow over his face?” the sister asked.
“Yeah, I did,” Hawkins is quoted as saying in case documents.
He said he planned the homicide for years, using Morell’s girlfriend to be close to Morell, according to the paperwork.
The girlfriend told police she knew Morell for 14 or 15 years.
After leaving her husband, she moved into Morell’s condo in the 4100 block of North State Road A1A north of the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum. The girlfriend also said she’d been dating Hawkins for about five months, and that she and Morell had an “open relationship.”
Attempts to reach Morell's girlfriend have been unsuccessful.
In the jail conversation, Hawkins told his sister Morell wrote a book about him and it angered him.
There's no indication in the case documents what that book might be, or if the deceased authored any books.
“He’s the reason why my life’s messed up. Okay?” Hawkins is quoted as saying. “He’s the reason I keep getting (expletive). So I took care of it myself.”
Hawkins described a “cocktail” he planned to give Morell via injection.
Hawkins described his feelings when he said he took Morell’s life, records show.
“(L)et’s say in your life you wanted to climb Mount Everest, OK? And all your life you trained and trained and trained to climb Mount Everest. OK?” records state. “And finally you climbed it, in all your life, finally you made it to the top, when you made it to the top, how would you feel?”
Hawkins’ sister told police Hawkins was estranged from the family. She said she last saw him in the summer of 2018.
She said he asked for money to open a plumbing business in Missouri.
She said that plan didn’t work and Hawkins got very angry.
She made him leave her property.
This story originally published to tcpalm.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.