08 February 2020 06:37
William Eugene Hawkins, 47, of Vero Beach, is charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 5 death of Robert Morell. According to St. Lucie County Jail records, Hawkins is also charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, burglary of an occupied dwelling, second-degree theft, trespassing and criminal mischief/damage to property. A Jan. 24 affidavit seeking the murder charge details an unusual case in which Hawkins allegedly confessed to his sister during a jailhouse visit that he had been planning Morell's killing for more than a decade, even before he met the girlfriend who seemingly tied the two men together. "I accomplished my life goal, OK?" Hawkins told his sister, according to the recording. William Eugene Hawkins, 47, of Vero Beach, Fla., is charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 5, 2020, death of Robert Morell at Tiffany Hall Nursing and Rehab, pictured, in Port St. Lucie.
Hawkins told his sister he began searching for Morell when he, Hawkins, was still in college. Hawkins told his sister he began dating Bostinto, 57, because of her connection to Morell. He also described how he brought a syringe filed with a "cocktail" of unnamed drugs with him to the Tiffany Hall Nursing and Rehab Center, where Morell had been a patient since September. Hawkins indicated that he was unable to inject the drugs into Morell's feeding tube as planned because the elderly man began fighting him. That's when he said he covered Morell's face with a pillow and suffocated him. "Let's say in your life you wanted to climb Mount Everest, OK?" Hawkins said, according to the affidavit. Port St. Lucie police officers were called to the nursing home shortly after midnight Jan. 5 about a possible homicide. Staff members told investigators a man fitting Hawkins' description had walked into Morell's room long after visiting hours, so a nurse approached him to find out why he was there. The man "calmly got off the victim, placed his hands in front of his face and ran out of the room," the document says. Hawkins' name first came up when detectives looked at a list of Morell's visitors and learned Hawkins matched the description of staff members who saw Morell's alleged killer. They later discovered that Hawkins had visited the older man at least five times since September. Bostinto had called the nursing home Jan. 4, less than 24 hours before the killing, to tell the staff she did not want Hawkins visiting Morell. An autopsy later found signs of suffocation, including petechiae in both eyes and a bile-like fluid in his throat, the affidavit says. Crime scene investigators found a syringe containing an unknown fluid on the floor of Morell's room, the court documents allege. Detectives went to Fort Pierce, where Morell and Bostinto lived together in a condo prior to his stay at Tiffany Hall. Bostinto explained that she and Morell, who had been together for about 15 years, had an open relationship, which led to her involvement with Hawkins. According to the affidavit, Bostinto told investigators Hawkins had snuck into the condo through her bedroom window the morning of Jan. 4. He also saw a feeding tube Bostinto was using to practice caring for Morell when he returned home. "The suspect then indicated to Angeline that she should inject the insulin into the victim's feeding tube in order to kill him," the affidavit says. Bostinto told detectives Hawkins used her shower and shaved during one of his visits to the condo that day, the documents allege. Following the killing and the interview with Bostinto, authorities began searching for both Hawkins and the Cadillac. A cellphone traced back to Hawkins was found in the vehicle, the affidavit says. Technicians were able to recover the data from the phone, which showed it traveling to the nursing home at the time of Morell's death, the document states. Hawkins was found Jan. 6 hiding in a shed at his aunt's home in Fort Pierce, at which time he was arrested for allegedly stealing Bostinto's car. Morell; 95-year-old victim who resided at Tiffany Hall Nursing Home. "She now believes this must have been when the suspect broke into the shed," the affidavit says. Upon questioning, Hawkins told investigators he ended up in the shed after waking up in the woods, cold and needing a place to sleep. "He said he has been blacking out a lot and really did not remember anything else," the document states. Hawkins told detectives he did not remember going to Bostinto's home or taking her vehicle but said if she claimed he stole her Cadillac, she was probably telling the truth. He admitted knowing where Morell's room was at Tiffany Hall and said he'd driven Bostinto to the facility in the past and had been to visit Morell multiple times. It wasn't until several days later, through Hawkins' jailhouse conversation with his younger sister, that more details became apparent, according to the court documents. Shannon Hawkins called Port St. Lucie police on Jan 7, two days after the homicide, and told investigators her brother, who was estranged from his family, had called their mother several times from jail, but the family had not been taking the calls. She told detectives she believed she could get her brother to confess to any crime he may have committed. She told authorities she believed her brother, who she suspected was on drugs, may have killed Morell for the man's money. "She said when her father died, they were supposed to get a large inheritance and they didn't," the affidavit says. "Shannon said when she read the articles (in the news) about the murder, she immediately believed it had to do with the victim's money." According to court documents, William Hawkins told his sister he had committed the crime alone and Bostinto knew nothing about it. Hawkins told his sister his tale about the book Morell supposedly wrote about him, stating Morell is the reason he is what he is. "He's the reason why my life's messed up, OK?" Hawkins said. Hawkins claimed he used Bostinto to get into Morell's condo. He told his sister he learned nearly 15 years before who Morell was--and where he lived. It was not made clear in the affidavit how Hawkins gained access to the facility at the time of the homicide. He told his sister he was able to walk right by the workers, however, who were distracted when he arrived. One worker at the desk told police she spotted Hawkins walking by but was on the phone with a patient and could not confront him as he headed toward Morell's room. Hawkins told his sister about trying to use the syringe on Morell, who he described as being strong for a 95-year-old.