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tv   Forensic Files  CNN  February 14, 2015 8:30pm-9:01pm PST

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♪ ♪ the song is called "the cheater." bob kuban and the in-men! >> in the 1960s, for lead singer walter scott, "the cheater" became both his signature song and the hit single. but like so many others, walter scott was a one-hit wonder, never able to repeat the success with another song. after 14 straight years of performing on the road, mostly one-nighters, walter scott disappeared. many believed that the lyrics "watch out for the cheater" weren't just words, but an omen.
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the famous arch in st. louis, missouri, stands as a symbolic gateway, recalling its role as the last stop for pioneers before heading west. later, st. louis became a well-known stop along america's music corridor which included memphis and new orleans. pop legends chuck berry and tina turner launched their careers here, as did a local boy, walter scott. ♪ you hear people say now look out for the cheater ♪ ♪ make way for the fool-hearted clown ♪ >> walter scott was the lead singer for the rock 'n' roll band bob kuban and the in-men. in 1966, the group started recording and gained national attention thanks to walter's stage presence and vocal range. >> wally could have been doing the showrooms in las vegas,
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let's put it this way. his chops were so good, that last rehearsal we had, i couldn't believe it. the guy just blew me away. i had no idea his voice had gotten that good. >> eventually the band's signature song, "the cheater," reached number 12 on the billboard chart. along with the notoriety came the women. >> you take a good-looking guy, and he's like a movie star back then, you know, to a lot of women, i'm sure. and you know, he -- he liked the ladies. >> throughout the 1970s and '80s, walter continued to sing with various bands throughout the united states, doing what are called one-nighters. this kept walter away from home for most of the time. >> anyway, this song sold over a million copies and singing it is my way of saying thank you. >> it wasn't long before walter's life mimicked the
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lyrics of his hit song, "watch out for the cheater." ♪ look out for the cheater make way for the fool-hearted clown ♪ >> while walter was married to his first wife doris, he was having an affair with a girl he met while on the road, joanne calcutta. it wasn't long before walter divorced doris and married joanne, although his family didn't approve. >> joanne was false. she was false from day one. everything was joanne, joanne, joanne. >> i still didn't feel like i could trust her, and i didn't think she was good for wally, but what could i do? >> ladies and gentlemen, miss suzanne flynn! >> with walter's travel schedule, his second marriage didn't work out any better than his first, and he got involved in a sexual relationship with one of his dancers, suzanne flynn. not surprisingly, walter wasn't the only one cheating. his wife joanne was having an
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affair with an electrician, jim williams, whom she met while he was doing some work in her home. >> she was really down about walter being on the road a lot because he was only home about 10, 12 weeks out of the year. >> jim williams was cheating too. he had been married to his wife sharon for 20 years. >> it was like "peyton place." everybody was running around with each other's wives, husbands. >> in october of 1983, the williams family received some terrible news. sharon williams had been in a serious automobile accident. her car had run off the road and down an embankment just a few miles from her home. when help arrived, there was a grass fire a foot high burning beside the car. sharon was on the floor of the car. she was unconscious and barely alive. >> somewhere around 7:30 in the evening i get a call from the sheriff's department. told me that my wife had been in
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a bad car accident, not to leave the house, an officer would come out and pick me up. >> there was only minor damage to the car, but sharon had received a serious head injury. she was rushed to a local hospital. there wasn't much that could be done. her skull was fractured. she never regained consciousness. >> the doctor comes to me, he said, we can pull the plug and let her go, or you can leave the plug plugged in and keep her like this for years. well, what are you going to do? >> jim williams took her off life support the following day. no autopsy was performed. two months later, there was more bad news. this time for walter scott's family. it was christmastime, and walter scott had just returned home from his concert tour to spend the holidays with his wife and children.
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friends said that walter didn't appear to be himself, that he was distracted. two days after christmas, joanne scott called police to report walter missing. she said he had left for a garage to get a new battery for his car and that he had not returned home. the owner of the garage said walter never arrived. the next day, the police found walter's automobile abandoned in a parking lot at the st. louis airport. but none of the flight manifests listed walter scott as a passenger. at t-mobile, get a sweet tablet on us. right now, when you get a new data plan, you can also get our most popular 7 inch tablet with no money down and no monthly payments.
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when walter scott was first reported missing, his father wasn't terribly concerned. walter had a reputation for taking quick trips out of town. >> i didn't figure nothing was wrong with him, but my wife says, something is wrong with wally. i said, aw, hell, he'll be home. he'll come -- he'll come showing up. >> the next day, walter's parents visited their son's home
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and were surprised by what they saw. jim williams was sitting at the kitchen table going through walter's jewelry case. he looked as if he was evaluating the quality of walter's jewelry. two of walter's guns were sitting on the edge of the table. his third, a .22 caliber pistol, was missing. and police learned that jim williams' car had been parked in front of joanne's home the entire night before. joanne insisted that jim had slept on the sofa. walter was missing for only 24 hours before joanne called walter's manager, canceling his performances for the next nine weeks. two days later, jim williams and joanne scott drove to pennsylvania where they looked through the band's trailer for any personal items walter may have left behind.
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while there, they shared a motel room. >> we stayed in a motel together. she was in this bed, i was in this bed. she never took her clothes off. i took my shirt off. i had a t-shirt under. >> the search for walter scott continued throughout the spring and summer. no family member or fellow musicians had seen or heard from him. the trail had turned cold. >> i had doubts. i really did. i had doubts that we would ever find him. >> i held out. i thought that wally had taken off. the last thing on my mind was that something had happened to him. >> desperate for any help she could find, walter's mother even consulted a psychic. >> and he told me that he's in cold, cold water. it's not moving water. and there's a big red barrel or something red by the side of the road where he's at.
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and he's not far from home. >> it was then that mrs. notheis had an inkling of where walter might be. >> and jim williams had a red door on his house. >> police searched jim williams' property but found nothing suspicious. nine months after walter disappeared, joanne filed for divorce, citing abandonment and adultery. joanne then married jim williams. at about this same time, there were some big changes being made at the medical examiner's office in st. louis. a forensic pathologist was hired to conduct autopsies on all suspicious deaths. dr. mary case was the new forensic pathologist. >> so they asked me if i would look at an old case that they had, and they brought me like a two-foot stack of material. >> it was the sharon williams
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automobile accident case. >> the car accident was rather a minimal front-end collision, and there was no explanation for why she should have any kind of impact injuries to the back of her head. >> there were a number of suspicious elements in this accident. the driver's side door was wide open. the driver's seat pushed back as far as it could go, yet sharon williams was not a tall woman. there was no damage to the car's fuel line, yet a grass fire burned near the car. and in the emergency room, nurses reported a strong smell of gasoline on sharon's body. with so many unanswered questions, dr. case ordered sharon williams' body exhumed for an autopsy. the body told a far different story than the accident report. >> there were two blunt impacts to the back of her head that
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caused vertical lacerations and very massive skull fracturing. this is not consistent with a head-on collision of a very minor nature. so her death was then considered a homicide. >> dr. case believes that a pipe or crowbar caused these head injuries, not the automobile accident. but who had orchestrated sharon's death to look like an accident? >> i didn't kill sharon williams. >> but police weren't too sure. i make a lot of purchases for my business. and i get a lot in return with ink plus from chase. like 60,000 bonus points when i spent $5,000 in the first 3 months after i opened my account. and i earn 5 times the rewards on internet, phone services and at office supply stores. with ink plus i can choose how to redeem my points. travel, gift cards, even cash back.
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smartphone or tablet from comcast. visit to learn more. was ruled a homicide, her ex-husband jim became the prime suspect. police also suspected that walter scott's disappearance was somehow connected. by this time, walter had been missing for three years. when police heard that jim williams' estranged son, jimmy, was serving time in a florida prison for an unrelated crime, they decided to pay him a visit. during questioning, jimmy jr. made some provocative statements about the three-year search for walter scott's whereabouts. >> he was kind of sarcastic.
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he, i guess, was kind of making fun of the police, making comments like, you guys aren't smart enough to figure this out. it was cold. the rivers were frozen. the lakes were frozen. you couldn't -- the ground was frozen. where would my dad get rid of a body? he was very, very suspicious that his father built a flower box over the cistern and that cistern has been exposed his whole life. >> police took out a warrant to search jim williams' home. the cistern was in the backyard, covered with concrete. there was a flower box on top. >> upon taking the cover off the flower box, we immediately noticed that the cistern was full of water. after looking down inside the cistern, we could see what appeared to be a body floating on top of the water in the same type of jogging suit that joann had reported walter wearing the last time he was seen.
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>> after the body was removed, the cistern was drained. there were several large concrete blocks at the bottom along with a sealed plastic bag with walter's credit cards and driver's license. >> walter's body was bound with a yellow rope. the wrists were bound, the knees were bound, and the ankles were bound. and there was a length of that rope extending from the body that had a large loop in it. surmising that it was tied to some bricks that were at the bottom of the cistern. >> walter scott's autopsy revealed that he had been shot in the back. because of the severe decomposition, it was impossible to determine what type of weapon was used. >> i didn't kill walter scott. if i would have killed a man, i'm going to shoot him right between the eyes. ain't going to take a chance of missing the heart and shooting him in the back. >> walter's family believes that he was murdered at home. >> i'll tell you the reason why.
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every time he'd come in the house, he took off his shoes. when they found his body, he was fully clothed, even his socks were still on his feet, but no shoes. >> jim williams was arrested and charged with the murder of both walter scott and his wife sharon. joanne williams was also charged in walter's murder. kay and walter notheis entombed their son at the valhalla mausoleum in st. louis. after three years in a cistern under water, they wanted to keep his body above ground. with jim williams and their ex-daughter-in-law awaiting trial, they believed the worst was behind them, or so they thought.
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[whispering] because i have responsibilities. ...i mean that's really interesting, then how do you explain these photos?! [people gasping] objection your honor. sustained. with the x1 dvr library you could take anywhere, xfinity is perfect for people on the go. jim williams and joanne williams were tried separately for murder. jim williams' trial was first. prosecutors believe that on october 19th, 1983, jim and sharon williams got into some kind of argument, possibly about jim's affair with joanne. the argument at some point turned violent. she was hit twice in the back of the head, fracturing her skull,
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causing massive internal bleeding. to make the death look like an accident, prosecutors say jim placed sharon's body in her car and drove down the embankment. he then set fire to the grass nearby and fled the scene before police arrived. with sharon out of the way, the only one standing between jim and joanne was walter. the forensic evidence shows that walter was shot in the back with a high-velocity pistol. walter's body was placed in the cistern on jim williams' property. there were no eyewitnesses. the murder weapon was never identified. the rope which bound walter scott did not match rope in the williams' garage. however, witnesses saw jim
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williams pouring concrete over the cistern and building the flower box a few weeks after walter's disappearance in 20-degree weather during a snowstorm. no one knows how walter scott's car found its way to the airport. or how williams got home after his wife's accident. jim williams said he was innocent and took the stand in his own defense. for the first time, he revealed he had seen walter on the night he disappeared. >> i went on into ken's office -- auto supply and come out. and i seen walter standing over there with some buy, a big guy. big black coat and a black hat, you know. they were talking while the guy was in the coat got in a cadillac, a black cadillac. and walter pulled up right behind him. >> but williams had no explanation for how walter's body mysteriously found its way
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into the cistern. jim williams was convicted of two counts of capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. with only circumstantial evidence against joanne williams, her trial never made it to court. in a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped the murder charge against joanne in exchange for a guilty plea to the felony charge of hindering the prosecution. joanne was sentenced to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. she was released after serving only 18 months. in his first television interview since his arrest, jim williams still maintains his innocence and now says his son may have had something to do with walter's murder. >> how did my son know he was back there? jimmy says it was a guess. awful good guess.
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>> kay and walter notheis are appalled that their former daughter-in-law served only 18 months in prison. >> there's only one person that would ever get close enough to wally to kill him without him even suspecting it. and that would be joann. and that's the reason that i think joann was the one who shot wally. >> walter scott is missed by his family, friends, and those who loved his talent, his wit, and his spirit. >> i listen to his records all the time. golly, when you walk in the stores and they're playing the songs he sang all the time, it used to bother me, but it doesn't now. makes me feel good. >> he really made it good in the music business. but i still don't understand how he could remember all those words. ♪ look out for the cheater ♪ who used to build you up just
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to let you down ♪ most of the evidence found that the crime scene hairs, fibers and fingerprints had been washed away, but the victim's six-year-old son unwittingly told investigators all they needed to know about the killer, and he did it without saying a word. the clue was in his genes.


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