An elderly Tulsa woman's death has been ruled a homicide

Friday, December 16th 2005, 10:52 am
By: News On 6

Investigators now know an elderly Tulsa woman thought to have died of natural causes was murdered. Tulsa Police say a former newspaper carrier confessed to killing women along his route.

Now after exhuming the body of one of those suspected victims, investigators say they have proof his claims are true.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says when Paul Williford was arrested for the sexual assault and attempted murder of an elderly woman on his paper route, police say he had a lot to say about his past, including how he killed two other women, just weeks before.

Tulsa Police say Williford told them he strangled 75-year old Geraldine Lawhorn in her Tulsa home in September. Thinking she'd died of natural causes, Lawhorn's stunned family agreed to have her body exhumed. An autopsy now confirms, Lawhorn was strangled. Tulsa Police detective Eddie Majors: “there was physical evidence to show that she was murdered. The manner in which she was murdered was exactly how Mr. Williford said he killed her."

For police, it was the evidence they needed to accuse Williford of murder. "Thank God that was there, and can bring, you really can't say closure to the family, but answers a lot of questions and doubts that this man did it."

Majors says the discovery ties both cases together. While the second victim was cremated, so there's no physical evidence, Tulsa Police are confident the details of Williford's confession are true. What frightens them the most is that if Williford hadn't told, they never would have known. "Scared, scared of the fact that, you don't know, of course he said he's never done anything prior to this but you know, you really don't know. You just always have to wonder in the back of your mind."

Tulsa Police hope to turn the case over to the District Attorney in a few days. Williford remains in the Tulsa County jail.