Man who killed wife, son to be executed Friday

February 17, 2009 

AIKEN -- It's been 18 years since Linda Williams and her 12-year-old son, Shaun, were killed and left in a burning van in a remote forest in Edgefield County.

On Friday, the convicted murderer who was husband to Linda and father to Shaun is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the South Carolina Department of Corrections' capital punishment facility at Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia.

Luke Williams III, now 56, ran out of appeals in December. He will be the first parent executed for killing his child in South Carolina since the ban on executions was lifted in 1977.

Williams was convicted by an Edgefield County jury in 1993 for murdering his son and 39-year-old wife in 1991. Shaun, an El Salvador native who was orphaned in 1978 during the civil war there, was strangled. Linda Williams was beaten to death.

Their bodies were doused with gasoline and set afire in the family van, which was driven into a tree in the Sumter National Forest. Police said it was a botched attempt to make their deaths look like an accident.

Shortly before the murders, Williams took out $584,000 in life insurance on his family.

At the time, the family lived in Evans, Ga. Linda Williams was a paraprofessional at a nearby elementary school.

The couple had been plagued by financial problems and had filed for bankruptcy. Williams had been injured on the job in 1987. He was unemployed and was attending Augusta Technical Institute, receiving his income from workers' compensation.

Williams was not arrested until a year after the killings. Then he remained free on $250,000 bond until his trial.

Throughout the trial, Williams maintained his innocence.

-- Aiken Standard, McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

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