Fort Worth sex offender with history of kidnappings linked to abduction, rape of child

How DNA evidence works

With the exception of identical twins, each person has a unique DNA profile. This makes DNA matching a powerful tool for finding and convicting the perpetrator of a crime.
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With the exception of identical twins, each person has a unique DNA profile. This makes DNA matching a powerful tool for finding and convicting the perpetrator of a crime.

A Fort Worth sex offender with a history of kidnapping accusations over the past 25 years has now been linked by a DNA database to the 2015 kidnapping and rape of a 13-year-old girl in Fort Worth.

James Earl Williams, who has recently worked as a girls basketball referee, was already in jail for allegedly violating sex offender registration requirements when Fort Worth police added the new cases against him on Thursday. He is accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 and aggravated kidnapping.

It marks the fourth time in a 25-year period that Williams, now 52, has been accused of kidnapping.

In 1994, Williams, then in the military and living in Hawaii, was sentenced to nine months in jail and 5 years probation after pleading no contest to kidnapping a woman there. He was also ordered to undergo sex offender treatment, court records show.

In May 2012, Williams was arrested by Fort Worth police for allegedly trying to kidnap a 12-year-old girl walking to school by threatening to shoot her if she did not get into his car. That case, however, was no-billed by a grand jury in August 2012.

In 2016, Williams was sentenced to two years in jail by a Tarrant County jury for the April 2015 attempted abduction in Watauga of an 11-year-old girl walking home from school.

Latest case

In the latest accusation, Williams is accused of abducting the 13-year-old on Jan. 11, 2015, as she walked home from a park near the Meadowbrook Golf course.

The girl told authorities that a man in a black car had tried to talk to her but she kept walking. She said he then stopped behind her, got out of his car, and grabbed her in a chokehold.

“She said he told her not to scream, turn off her cellphone, and get in the car,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Detective C. West with the crimes against children unit.

Once inside the car, the man ordered the girl to put her head down and questioned her about her age, name, why she was out so late and if she had a boyfriend. He then stopped the car, ordered her to take off her clothes and raped her, the affidavit states.

The girl was then ordered to get dressed and keep her head down again. The girl told authorities as he drove, the man asked if they could do this again the next weekend. She said she agreed in hopes the man would let her go and not hurt her family.

He then released her at a vacant lot not far from her home.

The case had gone cold until October, when investigators learned that the Combined DNA Index System had linked biological evidence from the rape to Williams.

Detectives obtained a warrant for Williams’ DNA. and additional testing later confirmed the link, the affidavit states.

“The odds of this match being that of an unrelated individual chosen at random shows to be one in 21.2 sextillion,” West wrote in the affidavit.

Past Tarrant County cases

Lizbet Soria was just shy of turning 13 when a man tried to kidnap her in the spring of 2012 as she walked alone from her house to Jean McClung Middle School in east Fort Worth..

Soria said a man driving a Lexus had been repeatedly offering her rides as she walked to school and once pointed to his lap and offered her “something else.”

Each time, Soria said, she ran off terrified but didn’t tell her mother for fear she wouldn’t be believed.

“I don’t know why. I felt really embarrassed like it was my fault,” Soria said.

But Soria did finally tell her mother after the man one day shouted at her, “You better get in the (expletive) car or I’ll shoot you.”

The mother and daughter later drove around until Soria spotted the Lexus again and they wrote down his license plate number.

Police tracked the plate number to Williams and he was arrested for attempted kidnapping. A Tarrant County grand jury, however, no-billed the case in August 2012 and Williams was released from jail.

Soria expressed shock upon learning that Williams is now accused of kidnapping another girl in 2015, and raping her.

“That could have been me,” said Soria, now a mother herself. “I just hope he gets locked up and nobody will ever have to worry about going through that again.”

Amber Hewitt, who had studied taekwondo and shinjitsu for years, had been walking home from Keller Intermediate School in April 2015 when Williams grabbed her around the neck and tried to force her into his car. The girl suffered a cut lip and chipped tooth as Williams slammed her head into the door frame but she was able to fight Williams off and escape.

“She looked like a little easy picking,” said Sylvia Chandler, Amber’s mother. “She was scrawny and little. When most girls that look like that don’t know how to fight back, she did.”

Amber Hewitt - Photo of girl who escaped kidnapper last year for trial story Star-Telegram archives

During the subsequent trial in 2016, two other girls testified that Williams had tried to get them to get into his car in the two months before Amber’s attempted abduction.

Though charged with aggravated kidnapping in Amber’s case, which carried a maximum punishment of life in prison, a jury found Williams guilty of the lesser included charge of attempted kidnapping. Williams’ defense attorney had argued that witnesses never positively identified Williams as the person who tried to abduct Amber and that no physical evidence tied him to the case.

We were not very happy at all,” Chandler said, regarding the 2016 verdict. ”He should have gotten more. He had broke her tooth. She had a busted lip. That’s aggravated assault and attempted kidnapping but all he got off with was the attempted kidnapping.”

When released from state jail in April 2017, Williams was required to register for life as a sex offender.

Working as girls basketball referee

In September, Fort Worth police arrested Williams for allegedly violating sex offender registration requirements by not reporting to Fort Worth police his places of employment or that he was now driving a Jaguar.

According to that arrest warrant affidavit, officer P.D. Reese had observed on Williams’ Facebook page that he was working as a girls basketball referee for the Glen Rose school district. The officer contacted the school district, whose records confirmed Williams had officiated seven games between November and December of 2017.

The officer also observed on Facebook that Williams was officiating games for the Granbury school district. School district records showed he’d officiated 10 games from November 2017 through February 2018, according to the affidavit.

Williams has not reported either employment to Fort Worth police nor that he was most recently working as a delivery driver for a Chinese restaurant.

Chandler said because there is DNA in the latest case against Williams, she’s hopeful this time he’ll go away for good.

“All the girls should get justice,” Chandler said. “Keep him off the streets.”

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For 23 years, Deanna Boyd has covered crime for the Star-Telegram. She digs deep into the stories behind the tragedies and hosts Out of the Cold, a podcast about unsolved murders in North Texas. She is a University of Texas at Austin graduate and has won several journalism awards through the years.