YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Dale Williams — accused in the shooting death of his girlfriend at the corner of Market Street and Indianola Avenue in Youngstown on Thursday — showed little emotion in court Friday afternoon.
The 59-year-old — who also has an assault conviction from the early ’90s — is charged with aggravated murder and jailed on $5 million bond. He told Judge Robert Milich on Friday that he needed a lawyer.
“Mr. Williams engaged in a full confession with the detectives yesterday, told them exactly what happened and how he planned this,” said Youngstown City Prosecutor Dana Lantz.
Police and witnesses said Williams used his van to push the car driven by Elizabeth Pledger-Stewart off the road, then shot her repeatedly as horrified bystanders watched.
The victim made a report with Boardman Police the night before, claiming Williams had been sending her threatening text messages.
In court on Friday, Lantz said the couple recently split up after Williams moved to Youngstown from the Cleveland area to be with Pledger-Stewart.
“He was angry and, basically, fed up,” she said. “He told her he would see her — “her” being the victim — in the streets and he waited for her.”
Authorities now have surveillance video showing Williams sitting in his van in an alley near the crime scene for almost an hour, waiting for the victim to drive past.
“The most dangerous time is when a victim is preparing to leave and after they leave,” Joe Caruso, with Compass Family and Community Services, said of domestic violence victims.
“When an event happens in the community, it heightens the awareness of survivors that are still maybe thinking about, ‘I need to escape,'” said Malinda Gavins, with the Sojourner House. “So one of the things we wanted to do is to be proactive and make sure that they know that services are available.”
Advocates for victims of domestic violence say survivors trying to break free of abusive relationships should contact a local victim’s shelter.
“You need a safety plan. You need to be aware of your surroundings,” said Malinda Gavins. “We talk to them about changing their routes. If you go one way today, come home another way.”
Those at the Sojourner House say there are some things to keep in mind if you’re planning to escape:
- Have extra keys hidden
- Keep extra changes of clothes at a friend’s house
- Get copies of important papers (marriage and birth certificates, Social Security cards, etc.)
- Confide in someone you can trust and make them aware of the situation
- Have an escape plan for you and your children (Tips on how to create an escape plan)
- Keep prescription medication in your purse
Experts stress that threats should always be taken seriously and never ignored.
The Sojourner House provides intervention, counseling, and shelter for victims of domestic violence. For help, call them at 330-747-4040. More resources are available on the Sojourner House’s website.