Police: RV Park Killer Had Dark History
A Port Orange, Fla., man authorities say went on a deadly rampage last week at a South Florida recreational vehicle park, gunning down a stranger and stabbing his 9-year-old son to death before taking his own life, threatened to kill his wife nearly five years ago, according to a police report.
Broward County sheriff’s investigators still have not released a motive in a six-hour standoff at Highland Woods RV Park in Deerfield Beach that left three dead, including 41-year-old William De Jesus and his 9-year-old son Jeshiah, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The aftermath of the double-murder suicide left neighbors in Port Orange and others wondering what went wrong with De Jesus. But a Daytona Beach police report revealed he had shown signs of a killer instinct nearly five years ago.
Police responded Sept. 17, 2007, to De Jesus’ residence at 123 Carolina Lake Drive for a domestic battery case, said Deputy Police Chief Steve Beres.
The woman, who was not identified in the report, told officers she had asked her husband De Jesus if he had been drinking and he became irate and tried to choke her, Beres said. De Jesus then threatened to kill her and her family if she tried to leave him, the woman told police.
De Jesus was arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery and resisting arrest without violence. But less than a year later those charges were dropped by prosecutors the day his trial was scheduled to begin, according to Volusia County court records.
Five years later that same woman and four others found themselves in the De Jesus’ destructive path, authorities say.
The man’s killing spree began Thursday evening when he shot 76-year-old Canadian traveler Ovila Plante in the chest and head outside the man’s RV at the Deerfield Beach campground after a verbal argument, Broward County sheriff’s deputies said.
He then led his family into Plante’s RV and barricaded them inside as the Broward County SWAT team surrounded the area.
During the standoff, Plante’s girlfriend, Pierrette Beauchemin, who was still inside the RV, was able to escape, detectives said.
After losing communication with De Jesus, the SWAT team entered the RV to find he had stabbed his family using a kitchen knife from Plante’s camper, eventually killing his 9-year-old son, Jeshiah, and himself, while seriously injuring his wife, Deanna, 37, and 7-year-old Samson.
On the Port Orange street where De Jesus lived, next-door neighbor Mark Durkin said he had few interactions with the family, though he would often see William De Jesus’ wife walking the family’s dog to a nearby park.
“He was a bit odd,” said Durkin.
The neighbor said he complained several times to code enforcement officials about the family parking their vehicles in the yard but otherwise had very few problems with them.
“I was completely surprised he flew off the handle like that,” Durkin said.
On Saturday, William De Jesus’ family picked up belongings left behind by their relative, while a Port Orange animal control officer was at the residence to tend to a dog that had been left chained outside.
The two boys were students at Spruce Creek Elementary School, said Volusia County Schools spokeswoman Nancy Wait. Grief counselors will be on hand at the school Monday, she said.
“Everybody’s hurting right now,” she said.
De Jesus’ family declined comment. Attempts to contact Deanna De Jesus’ family were unsuccessful.
A woman, who identified herself as the owner of the property and De Jesus’ landlord, said their rent check was always on time and she never had any problems out of them. The home is owned by Shirley Brautigam, according to Volusia County property records.
The woman said she did not know why the family may have traveled that far south but believed they had family in the area.
“They were really nice people,” she said before driving off.