Stories on the Murder of Robert R. Muller in Hampton in 1974
Bay Stater Brutally Slain in Hampton
Hampton Union, Wednesday, May 1, 1974
HAMPTON -- Joseph J. Williams was to be arraigned in Hampton District court yesterday on a murder charge in connection with the fatal shooting of Robert R. Muller late Monday night at the Woodland Road home of Katherine Williams.
Muller, age 42, of 19 Genetti St., Bedford, Mass., died at Exeter Hospital at about 12:08 a.m. Tuesday morning statement from an apparent gunshot wound in the fore head, according to a statement released by Rockingham County Attorney Carleton Eldredge. The fatal shot was apparently fire from a 38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver at 11:30 p.m. as Muller stood in the front door of Katherine Williams' home.
The suspect, Joseph Williams, of 18 Mystic St., Methuen, Mass. is the estranged husband of Katherine Williams, according to the county attorney's statement,
Hampton Police Chief Clayton Bousquin said a neighbor who heard the single shot called police at 11:32 p.m. to report the incident. The information was related to Sgt. William Richie and Patrolman Robert McLoughlin who were on cruiser patrol.
The officers apprehended Williams at the scene without a struggle according to Bousquin. The suspect was later formally charged by the chief.
An autopsy was ordered to be performed Tuesday afternoon by Dr. George Katsas, a Boston pathologist.
Eldredge said the incident is under investigation by the Hampton police, the state police and the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department. He said a detective from the state police is investigating the background of the principals involved in the fatal shooting. Standard procedure is to determine the activities of the principals for the 24 hours preceding the incident, Eldredge said.
Assisting in the investigation are personnel from the state crime lab and two deputies who work with the County Attorney's office.
Eldredge said the homicide in Hampton Monday night was the first this year in Rockingham County.
Superior Court Judge To Hold Hearing Today
By Melody Dahl
Hampton Union, May 8, 1974
HAMPTON -- A sanity hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. this afternoon in Rockingham County Superior Court for Joseph J. Williams, 41 of Woodland Road, Hampton, and Methuen, Mass., who has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Robert R. Muller, 42 of Lexington, Mass.
Rockingham County Attorney Carleton Eldredge requested last Tuesday on bail until a psychiatric study could be made at the New Hampshire State Hospital.
Judge Thomas MOrris denied the petition for commitment until a separate hearing could be held and released Williams on $25,000 personal surety pending a secret session before the grand jury June 13 on possible indictment.
Earlier in the day on April 30, Judge Edward J. McDermott found probable cause in Hampton District Court after listening to moe than two and a half hours of testimony including that of the accused.
During direct testimony, Williams asserted that he had only meant to scare Muller, but while he was waving the gun up in the air, Muller brushed by him to get to his car and the gun went off. Williams called the shooting an accident.
Williams, owner of a school bus company in Methuen that transports handicapped children and part owner of the Golden Swan night club in Salisbury, Mass., told the court that he and his wife had become friendly with Muller, a 20-year veteran of the Lexington :Police department, because both parties had boats moored at the Hampton Beach Marina.
He related marital difficulties with his wife, Kathleen, dating back to 1971 when she filed a divorce action against him in Rockingham County Superior Court for extreme cruelty.
Another action was filed in March, 1973, Williams said under cross examination, and he told Eldredge that it was "news to me" that a third divorce action was filed by Mrs. Williams recently and was pending.
Williams said that during the couple's separations Muller started seeing his wife and he drove to Muller's Lexington home and asked Muller to stay away from his wife since he was working at a reconciliation.
He said Muller agreed, the couple got back together and for quite sometime did not speak to Muller. Then in the summer of '73 they got friendly again and williams testified that he and his wife, another couple and Muller went to the Virgin Islands and Florida on a vacation in November of last year.
Muller was also present at a New Year's Eve party the Williams had this year.
Williams said he and his wife had been separated to see a marriage counselor in recent weeks but that Muller continued to see his wife. He said friends and neighbors told him that Muller would come to the Woodland Road home after he had left for work.
On April 23, a week before the shooting, Williams testified that when he came home from work Muller's car was there and he approached the door Muller stepped outside and told Williams he was just leaving. Mrs. Williams locked him out of the house that night, he said.
On the night of the alleged murder, Williams said he came home about 5:30 p.m., went out for a bike ride with his daughter and when he returned, he and his wife had words so he left intending to go to Methuen. But instead he stopped at a neighbor's house for a couple of beers, he said.
When he left the neighbor's house about 11 p.m., Williams said he intended to go to Methuen to spend the night at his mother's but when he saw Muller's car in his driveway he drove up to the house shining his headlights on the door.
Williams said he first went up to the door but on second thought returned to his car to get a revolver because "I just wanted to scare the man."
Williams said Muller came out the door and closed it behind him with Mrs. Williams remaining inside. He said holding the fun in his left hand, he pointed the gun over Muller's right shoulder shaking it. Williams said he started to say to Muller that he, Muller, had promised he would stay away from Ms. Williams but Williams said he never finished the sentence. Muller grabbed his arm, he said, to get by him to go to his car and the gun went off.
Williams testified that his wife opened the door and asked what happened and williams replied "It's an accident, Kay. I shot him. Call the ambulance."
Williams said he was not a violent man and "no way did I want to shoot to kill anybody."
Under cross examination Williams said he had kept a loaded revolver in the glove compartment of his car since he purchased it 15 years ago. He also admitted that he was away in Florida for 10 days in February.
Arguing against finding probable cause, Williams' attorney said the evidence was not sufficient to find probable cause. The attorney presented a memo to the court on the definition of murder and said that in order to have murder in the first degree, the prosecution must prove premeditation, intent to kill and malice.
Hampton policeman Robert McLaughlin testified that upon arriving at the Williams home shortly after the shooting, he observed Muller lying on the steps at the side entrance to the house. Mrs. Williams was hysterical and screaming, he said. McLaughlin quoted Williams as saying, "Please help him. I've done it."
Mclaughlin asked Williams where the gun was and Williams turned and pointed to his Lincoln Continental where McLaughlin found the gun lying on the front seat.
McLaughlin agreed under cross examination that Williams was upset all night long while being held at the Hampton jail saying "yes" when Atty. Leonard asked if Williams was full of remorse.
Sgt. William Ritchie, who arrived at the scene with McLaughlin, testified that he attended to Muller and ordered an ambulance called when he observed the wound.
Officer Victor DeMarco testified that he was asked to guard Williams in the cruiser after he had been placed under arrest for aggravated assault and was in the process of listening to Williams tell him what had happened when he was ordered to drive the ambulance to the hospital.
Atty. Leonard asked DeMarco if he felt it was important to relay his conversation with Williams to someone else and asked if it ever occurred to DeMarco that the shooting could have been accidental
DeMarco said he never gave any thought about it being an accident.
Dr. Scott Sudduth, who was in the emergency room at Exeter Hospital the night of the shooting, testified that Muller was shot between the eyes and just above the bridge of the nose. He said he observed no exit wound at the time Muller was brought in. Muller was pronounced dead at 12:05 a.m. Tuesday. Williams was then charged with murder by Hampton police.
Roger Bowden, captain in charge of the state crime lab, said that during the autopsy, a bullet was removed from Muller's head. He said the angle of the bullet's path was slightly raised.
Much of the same testimony was given during the bail hearing in Exeter which was held immediately after the probable cause hearing.
Eldredge asked that Williams be held pending a hearing on the petition for committment for psychiatric study. He also asked that if Williams was to be released that a condition of his bail be that he not be allowed to go to the Williams home because Mrs. Williams was "terrified" of him
Judge Thomas Morris denied the request to hold Williams and did not set any conditions on his release from custody.
Williams To Be Examined
Hampton Union, May 15, 1974
EXETER -- Accused murderer Joseph J. Williams, 41 of Hampton and Methuen, Mass., will be examined by doctors at the New Hampshire State Hospital as an outpatient.
An agreement to that effect was reached last Wednesday in Rockingham County Superior Court during a 10 minute hearing before Judge William Cann.
Williams has been charged by Hampton police in the April 29 shooting death of Robert R. Muller, 42 of Lexington, Mass. at the Williams' residence on Woodland Road, Hampton.
During the hearing, Rockingham County Attorney Carleton Eldredge asked that the hospital address itself to two questions: whether or not Williams is same and whether it is proper for him to be free for his own safety and the safety of others.
Williams was released April 30 on $25,000 personal surety.
Richard Leonard, attorney for Williams, presented a letter to the court during the sanity hearing from a Boston psychiatrist who had examined Williams last week. Leonard quoted the doctor's letter as saying "Williams is not psychotic and not dangerous to himself and others."
Eldredge asked that the letter not be included in the court order to the New Hampshire State Hospital because it was the job of the hospital to draw the conclusions, Judge Cann complied with that request.
The case is expected to come before the Rockingham County grand jury which convenes June 13.