'You know you have those mountaintop high-type experiences and the valley lows? I would say that my life has been mostly valley low experiences' - Toby Lynn Williams
It was less than a week until Christmas 1984. And less than half an hour until midnight in Greenwood, a town in the northwest corner of Louisiana, about 15 miles from the Texas border. Late enough to make a knock at the door unusual and just a little concerning.
When Johnny Moore heard the knock on the front door of his house on Rice Road, he turned on the outside light to see a young man he knew and two young women he didn’t. The man was 20-year-old Toby Williams, a local guy who had carried out some casual work for the Moores at their recreational vehicle business. It was a little late for Toby to be calling round about work opportunities, Johnny thought. He was right too. Williams was there to rob them.
Williams had a .357 pistol in his jacket. He told Johnny to turn off the outside lights and return to the house. Unfortunately for everyone, the robbery did not go to plan. The Moores had only $11 of cash in the house. So Williams took Johnny’s bank card and left to try and steal money from the nearest ATM with it. But he couldn’t work the machine. Left to ‘look after’ the family in the meantime were Toby Williams’ newly-recruited accomplices, Victoria Hinton and Wilma Franklin; women he half knew from the streets of Greenwood who were only too happy to help on the promise of some easy cash.
Now back at the house, Toby began robbing the Moores of their possessions while Hinton and Franklin were charged with looking after the Moores and their six month-old baby. Williams began to panic about getting caught and determined that the only way to escape punishment was to ensure that there were no witnesses to their crime. He decided that he would have to kill 25-year-old Johnny Moore, as well as Deborah Moore, his wife and Johnny’s junior their three-year-old.
He then ordered them to have sexual intercourse because he wanted to see white people f--k
In order to give the police the impression that ‘the killer’ was a Texan, Williams drove all six of them out to a deserted road just across the border, inside the Texas state line. Hinton and Franklin stayed in the car with the baby while Williams forced the married couple to lie down on the roadside and strip. He then ordered them to have sexual intercourse because he 'wanted to see white people f--k'. Cold, scared and humiliated, they did not comply.
Near-naked, shivering and terrified, Johnny and Deborah Moore were then shot by Williams and left for dead. Williams shot Deborah with his powerful .357 handgun, with the bullet going through her and into Johnny.
Williams, Hinton and Franklin fled. Johnny managed to get help from a nearby house. The police and ambulance were called. Johnny survived his gunshot wounds. His wife, however, would not.
The girls left the baby at a nearby house; the child had suffered no harm. No physical harm, at least.
Four hours later, Toby Lynn Williams was arrested. He would be charged with kidnapping and capital murder. The jury were only too happy to oblige the prosecutor. On the 27th of September 1985, Williams was found guilty of kidnapping and murder with a deadly weapon and sentenced to die by lethal injection. He would spend seven years on Death Row.
Toby’s story doesn’t end strapped to a chair with deadly chemicals being pumped into his veins while the family of his victim watched on, though. In 1992, his death sentence was annulled after it became known that vital evidence was withheld during his trial. Evidence which suggested that Williams may well have been ‘mentally retarded’ at the time of his despicable crime.
His sentence was downgraded to life in prison. His first opportunity for parole was back in 2004. However, he remains in prison in the Lone Star State to this day.
Will he ever make parole? It’s impossible to say. Does he deserve to make parole…? That’s an equally tricky question. Toby Williams committed a truly atrocious crime. He killed a young woman for profit and in cold blood. He widowed a man and created a six-month-old orphan. He shot her husband. Fled the scene. Robbed them, kidnapped them. Involved two young women in his crime. In his defence, however? Well, these events did take place three and a half decades ago…
Since then, Williams has sat in a cell. Sat, stared at the wall and contemplated his life, his crime and his abusive upbringing. Cellmates, pastors, guards and anyone that knows him now all agree - he’s a changed man and he deserves another chance in society.
Johnny Moore? Well, it seems likely that he disagrees.
Is Toby Lynn Williams redeemable or irredeemable? Episode four of the second series of I am a Killer asks that very question. Be sure you tune in to see if you can help answer it.