UPDATE: Woman arrested in husband's slaying

By Paris Achen and Ray Legendre

Published:

Updated: May 30, 2012, 10:24 PM

 
photoDonna Rae Williams is seen in a mugshot after her arrest earlier this year in Multnomah County.
photoOfficials with Clark County Major Crimes investigate a homicide Wednesday afternoon at 12216 N.E. 76th St., in Vancouver.

(/The Columbian)

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Homicide scene

A 51-year-old Sifton woman was arrested Wednesday evening on suspicion of the premeditated slaying of her 55-year-old husband inside their home, authorities said.

Investigators believe Donna Rae Williams killed her husband, Mark, prior to Wednesday, Clark County Detective Sgt. Kevin Allais said. However, sheriff’s officials did not release information on the weapon Williams allegedly used or how long her husband had been dead inside the house at 12216 N.E. 76th St., near the intersection of Northeast 124th Avenue.

Donna Rae Williams is being held at the Clark County Jail and is expected to make her first appearance this morning in Clark County Superior Court. Her first-degree murder arrest denotes that the alleged crime was premeditated, said Sgt. Fred Neiman with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Family members who gathered outside the single-story light-blue home said the couple had their ups and downs during their lengthy marriage, but nothing to indicate such a violent end. However, a neighbor and a former co-worker of Donna Rae Williams’ said they suspected her husband beat her — suggestions police neither confirmed nor denied Wednesday.

“They had the typical problems like any couple,” nephew Aaron Brown said, “but for this to happen is a shock to everybody.”

Donna Rae Williams called 911 around 2:20 p.m. to report her husband’s death at their residence in the Sifton neighborhood. Authorities declined to say whether she confessed to her husband’s killing.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine cause of death and when the man died. However, the deceased man may have been attacked with a hammer, sources said.

Family members of the Williamses arrived at the scene around 5:50 p.m. Around a half-hour later, Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office employees removed Mark Williams’ body from the house. By then, a small crowd of children on bicycles and clutching skateboards gathered around the crime scene tape to watch police work.

Neighbor Amanda Bright said she never expected such a scene, even though she knew there were problems next door.

Donna Rae had a black eye the previous Thursday when she visited, Bright recalled. She told Bright she had been injured in a car wreck, but Bright doubted her.

“If you get into a car accident, you aren’t going to have a circle-punch black eye,” Bright said.

There were other instances where her neighbor had visible bruises, Bright said.

But Bright never envisioned Donna Rae’s bruises would one day lead to Mark’s death.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Bright said. “I’m just shocked, shocked.”

She said the last time she saw Mark Williams was about a week and a half ago. The grass in the couple’s yard had not been mowed in several days, something she found odd.

Bright said Mark Williams had a calm demeanor.

“That’s why it’s so shocking to me,” Bright said.

Donna Rae Williams formerly worked as a cashier at WinCo, a relative said. She was charged with third-degree theft on March 8 in Multnomah County but was released from jail on her own recognizance.

Mark Williams traveled around removing asbestos from buildings, relatives said.

Aaron Brown, his nephew, described him as hard working and straightforward. Brown described Donna Rae Williams as always smiling and laughing.

The couple hosted family gatherings at their home and raised two children — Brandon and RuKiya, both adults. There was never mention of domestic abuse during their three-plus decade marriage, said Donna Rae’s brother-in-law, who asked to be identified as L. Brown.

“If they did, they kept it hid well,” he said.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend; www.twitter.com/#!/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.