Former Newspaper Carrier Faces New Murder Charges

Thursday, October 19th 2006, 4:30 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa newspaper carrier already serving life in prison for trying to kill one of his customers is back in court on murder charges.

Paul Williford was arraigned today on two counts of murder in the first degree.

The News on 6's Heather Lewin says the victims are two women in their 70's, originally thought to have died of nautral causes.

Williford became a suspect in their deaths during his trial on other charges, but prosecutors say the investigation wasn't complete. Now they say they're ready to pursue justice for those victims.

When 75-year old Geraldine Lawhorn was found dead in her Tulsa home, family members thought she'd simply passed away.

It wasn't until the exhumation of her body that detectives knew they had a homicide, and believed they had the killer.

Paul Williford confessed both to police and News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright that he killed Lawhorn and 73-year old Donna Stauffer a month later.

When he pleaded guilty in court for trying to kill another woman on his paper route, he was sentenced to life in prison for attacking her and some thought that was the end.

But prosecutors say they simply weren't ready to charge him with murder - until now.

"Some of the things quite frankly weren't complete," says prosecutor Bill Musseman. "The investigation was nowhere near done, even when information started coming out."

Now with an autopsy, forensic evidence and statements prosecutors aren't willing to discuss before the trial, they're confident they have a case.

With the law mandating Williford serve 85-percent of his life sentence, he's already sure to die in prison. Even though it may not add any additional punishment, prosecutors say these crimes cannot go unanswered.

Musseman says, "We have alleged that he murdered two people in Tulsa County. And to sit back and just ignore or not pursue those murders I don't think is the appropriate step."

Williford did not actually appear in the courtroom today. It was a video arraignment, but he is expected to for a preliminary hearing on January 10th.

Prosecutors haven't decided whether to pursue the death penalty.