Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysis confirms investigators’ suspicions
A report that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) recently sent to the Sarasota Police Department (SPD) “scientifically connected William Devonshire, 52,” to a second homicide that occurred early this year, the Police Department has announced.
“The Sarasota Police Department believed Devonshire was a strong suspect in two homicide investigations but could only charge him in one of the cases because of DNA evidence,” a news release explains.
DNA from one victim — a 59-year-old Sarasota woman who died in March — was discovered on Devonshire’s clothing, the release points out. “The woman’s remains were found near the shore of Whitaker Bayou just before 4 p.m. on March 10,” the release adds. In an earlier statement, the Police Department reported that that body was located near the 1900 block of North Tamiami Trail.
Devonshire’s clothing then was submitted to the FDLE for DNA processing, the release notes.
The Oct. 7 FDLE report said that the DNA discovered on Devonshire’s clothing in that case matched the DNA found on a February homicide victim, the release says.
The body of Kelliann Ripley, 48, of Sarasota, was discovered in February near the Centennial Park Boat Ramp, the release explains. Officers determined that she had died from “blunt force trauma and manual strangulation,” a department news release said at that time.
A Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division document described Devonshire as being 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 220 pounds.
Devonshire, who was arrested in March, faced Murder charges in connection with Ripley’s death, the release adds. Ripley’s family allowed her name to be released publicly, the release points out.
“Devonshire voluntarily gave a buccal swab to Sarasota Police officers on March 15,” the release continues. A buccal swab involves the use of a Q-Tip to swab the interior of a person’s mouth for DNA comparison, the release explains.
On March 25, Sarasota Police officers arrested Devonshire in Pioneer Park, which is located at 1260 12th Street in Sarasota; the charges filed against him were trespassing, possession of cocaine, and possession of paraphernalia, the release notes.
Devonshire, 52, died in the Sarasota County Jail in June, the release points out. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office announced on May 17 that he was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital following a medical event. The Sheriff’s Office and District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office said later that Devonshire died at the jail as a result of a medical-related illness.
The Sarasota Police Department closed the two homicide cases following his death, the release adds.
“We had indisputable evidence that linked Devonshire to both homicides that occurred in February and March,” Capt. Johnathan Todd of SPD’s Criminal Investigations Division summed up the facts in the release. “Thanks to our partners at the FDLE, we expedited the DNA processing following the homicide in February, and we were able to arrest the suspect,” Todd added in the release.
During a March 28 press conference, Police Chief Rex Troche told the attendees that “the facts and evdience” related to the February case and the death of the victim whose body was discovered in March “lead us to believe the cases are related.”
Devonshire had criminal histories in New Jersey, Maryland, Indiana, Ohio, Delaware and other parts of Florida, including charges of assault, aggravated harassment, disorderly contact, battery, burglary, and trespassing, the release notes.
In 2003, he was charged with Murder in Delaware and was convicted in 2005 of that charge, the release adds. Although The Sarasota News Leader was able to locate some court documents related to that case, it was unable to find anything explaining his release two years after the charge was filed.