The suspect in the second-most shocking and bizarre Bay Area homicide of last week, Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Devin Williams Jr., was arraigned Friday — even as the double homicide in an East Bay suburb that he allegedly committed was overshadowed by a beheading on the Peninsula.
The killings occurred early Wednesday morning on a quiet suburban street in Dublin, and authorities quickly homed in on one suspect, 24-year-old Devin Williams Jr., an employee with the sheriff's department. Within hours of a manhunt beginning, and within an hour of Williams being publicly announced as a suspect, he had turned himself in and was arrested by CHP officers near Fresno.
Williams was arraigned Friday, but did not enter a plea. As the LA Times reports, he has been charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance of avoiding lawful arrest — the latter because he fled the county immediately after the killings.
The victims were 57-year-old Benison Tran, a recently retired civil engineer who had spent 29 years employed by the city of Santa Clara, and 42-year-old Maria Tran, a psychiatric nurse. They were both shot, "execution-style," after midnight last Wednesday morning in their home in the Dublin Ranch subdivision, while their son and another relative were in the house.
We learned quickly from investigators that Williams and Maria Tran may have been engaged in an extramarital affair. But some more details came out late last week via Williams's mother, Anitra Williams. She spoke to KTVU on Friday and said that tried to warn her son against being involved with Maria Tran, but that he had been "blinded by love."
One interesting detail that Anitra Williams shared was that her son met Tran while she was at work at John George Psychiatric Hospital in San Leandro. It remains unclear if Williams may have been a patient there.
UPDATE: @ACSOSheriffs Deputy Devin Williams Jr., held in shooting deaths of married couple, had been in a relationship with the woman, who misrepresented herself as a younger, recently-divorced single mom, deputy’s mother tells me. 5:30, 6:20, 7:20 p.m. @KTVU pic.twitter.com/yrJnJI7KQu— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) September 8, 2022
We know that Williams had a clean record at work, but that he had only joined the Alameda County Sheriff's Office a year and a half ago, apparently after not passing his one-year probationary period in the Stockton Police Department.
Department spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly said that Williams had grown up "in an affluent home" and there were "no red flags" in his employment record. But, he said in a Wednesday press conference, "This is a very bizarre chain of events that unfolded. And I think as the story unfolds, you guys will understand that better."
Anitra Williams tells KTVU that Maria Tran had lied to her son, convincing him that she was a 35-year-old, recently divorced single mother. Tran and Williams had apparently begun dating in January of this year.
We know that Williams spent 45 minutes on the phone with Dublin's chief of police, who's also a commander with the sheriff's office, Garret Holmes, before turning himself in. And Anitra Williams said that her son called her from the road as well.
"I told him the cowardly thing to do would be to take your life," she tells KTVU. "I talked to my son and told my son, tap into who I raised you to be."
Given the circumstances of his surrender, it seems likely that Williams will enter a guilty plea. But that remains uncertain.
Top image of Tran home via Google Street View