47 year old William Hawkins is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 95-year-old man in a nursing home in Port St. Lucie. On Jan. 5, police responded to the Tiffany Hall Nursing Home after receiving a 9-11 call about someone trying to smother a patient.
Officers arrived and found a man dead.
A certified nursing assistant told police he saw a bald-headed man wearing a dark sweater or jacket and shorts, enter the victim’s room. A short time later, the assistant told the victim’s nurse that an unknown man entered the victim’s room. The nurse saw the stranger in the victim’s room and alerted others.
Staffers told investigators that the intruder must’ve had an access code to get into the facility. The executive director of the rehabilitation center told police the patient’s family had 24/7 access to the facility.
Later in the morning, detectives identified Hawkins as a possible suspect after looking at names on the victim’s visitors list and comparing descriptions from witnesses. The arrest report says Hawkins had visited Morell at least five times at the nursing home and knew where his room was.
Police say the motive may have been money, according to the suspect’s sister, “When their father died, they were supposed to get a large inheritance and they didn’t.”
Police arrested Hawkins on the murder charge while he was in custody last week.
He was initially arrested on Jan. 6, one day after the murder on grand theft, trespassing, petit theft and burglary charges.
A staff member told detectives that she received a call from the Morell’s girlfriend earlier that afternoon. She said she had Power of Attorney and didn’t want Hawkins visiting Morell for fear that he would try to kill him by injecting insulin into his feeding tube. The victim’s girlfriend told police that she was in a relationship with Hawkins and that the victim knew about it.
Police say GPS data in Hawkins phone shows he was at the nursing home at the time of the murder.
Hawkins, according to police, broke into the victim’s girlfriend’s condo and stole her car keys one the day before the murder. Police found her car submerged in water and abandoned near 1400 E. Midway Road.
Morell had been at the facility since Sept. 2019 following a procedure at a hospital to get a feeding tube installed. The autopsy showed he suffered broken or fractured ribs.