“I killed Satan.”
According to residents at West Fifty-One Apartments, that’s what 47-year-old James Spencer Williams said at about 9:15 p.m. as he walked around the courtyard with a bloody knife before running off.
In apartment No. 8, Antonio “Tony” Villa, 59, was quickly dying from a fatal stab wound in his upper torso.
Williams was arrested at 9:31 p.m. and charged with murder.
Villa was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m.
It was a surreal scene, but one the residents of 2251 W. Fourth St. said they’d come to expect.
The complex shows signs of graffiti and vandalism, blood aged brown flecked the doorframe where Villa’s still-red blood had dried on the concrete below.
But Bruce Wood, 36, said he had lived there for a year, and it was a peaceful and quiet place before Williams arrived a few months ago.
“People could sit outside and enjoy themselves,” Wood said.
More recently, Woods said his own friends haven’t wanted to come over.
“One morning he was running around in his underwear and some lady’s shirt,” Wood said.
Other residents also described Williams walking around the courtyard wearing women’s clothing or very little, engaging in bizarre behavior such as digging holes and filling them with concrete, walking long distances barefoot at night, and ripping cushions to spread outside.
Residents said that several weeks ago, Williams used a bat to break windows on the lower level, including his own, which was the source of the older blood.
Inside Williams’ home, an assortment of odd and most broken items were plainly visible, including torn furniture, a bicycle on its side, and an upright baby carriage.
Abel Flores, 44, said Williams was somebody nobody wanted to be around, for other reasons.
“He had some kind of book,” Flores said, which Flores described as large and black, but he wasn’t sure if it was a Bible. Flores said Williams would walk around with his hands up, mumbling, “I ain’t afraid of Satan. I’ll kill Satan.”
“He claimed he was Jesus Christ,” said Sam Slate, 44, who said he was dating Villa’s 30-year-old niece Jo Dominguez. Slate said police had often been called out to the complex and Williams had been arrested before, but was never gone long. Slate said he wasn’t surprised by the stabbing.
“It was just destined to happen,” Slate said.
Although no one had a bad word to say about Villa, who didn’t live at the complex, Slate said Williams had fought with Villa before. Slate said things really got bad when Villa hit Williams with a shovel in an argument.
“James (Williams) said he was gonna get him back,” Slate said.
Joseph Fischer, 47, who lives in No. 8, said he and Villa were in Fischer’s apartment Monday night watching God’s Learning Channel with the front door open for the cool air.
Fischer said Williams just walked inside.
“We weren’t expecting nothing,” Fischer said. “I thought they’d kind of patched it up.”
But then Fischer said Williams yelled, “I’m gonna kill you Satan,” before stabbing Villa once with a knife and going back out the door, shouting that he’d killed the devil.
“We were all friends at one time or another,” Fischer said.