October 3, 2006
The investigation into the man suspected of killing a University of Virginia graduate student is far from over. In fact, investigators now believe his murderous crime spree spanned five states in 11 days.
Authorities in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida as well as the FBI say 37-year-old William Ashby of Savannah, Georgia went on a heinous crime spree.
It started September 20th, 2006 allegedly with a stolen gun and car. According to our sister station First Coast News, Ashby committed that crime in Savannah, Georgia.
Two days later on September 22nd, 2006 he may have killed a Yulee, Florida fruit stand clerk. The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office announced they released a man once accused of that killing and are now looking at Ashby.
On September 24th, 2006 authorities believe Ashby then robbed and shot Convenience Store Clerk Waynetta Toler in the head in Eden, GA. The clerk survived the shooting. The FBI said Ashby left the scene in a white 1997 Oldsmobile Achieva.
Then next day, there was another murder, which took place in South Carolina. Ashby is suspected of shooting Fruit Stand Clerk, Steven Hodge, once in head at close range, according to our sister station First Coast News.
On September 27th, 2006 Effingham County Sheriff’s Office issued an all points bulletin for Ashby’s arrest.
On September 28th, 2006 the FBI believes Ashby committed a double homicide in Cumberland Gap, TN. Two package store clerks Ralph Hopper and Julie Maiden were found dead shortly after midnight.
On Friday the 29th UVa student Elizabeth Hafter had a fatal encounter with Ashby along the Blue Ridge Parkway. On Sunday a missing person's report was filed and Charlottesville Police became concerned Hafter's disappearance could be linked to Ashby.
"Subsequent to that, it's my understanding that a search took place that resulted in the discovery of this victim, and began this very terrible chain of events with this family," said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
Longo told us Tuesday night, shortly after the officer took the missing person’s report at around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon, he learned a stolen car Ashby was believed to be driving was located in the same vicinity Hafter reportedly went missing. The officer alerted authorities.
Monday night, authorities spotted the missing UVa student's car on Interstate-95 near Jacksonville, where a high speed chase ensued.
“Last night as all of us watched--perhaps from our TV sets at home what happened in Northern Florida--it kind of brings this all to a conclusion,” said Longo.
That conclusion was the death of Ashby after a shoot out with St. John's deputies. Results of an autopsy report released Tuesday night confirm Ashby was the man deputies killed.
Now, investigators across the Southern East Coast must try to piece together why Ashby went on this crime spree and confirm it was in fact Ashby who committed these crimes.