SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — The suspect in the murders of two women in Sarasota died in custody over the weekend, according to the sheriff’s office.
Assistant State Attorney Karen Fraivillige said William Devonshire, 52, was hospitalized after having a seizure while in custody on May 17. Devonshire suffered a brain bleed as a result, according to authorities.
The sheriff’s office said he was returned to hospice care in jail with a “do not resuscitate” order. Around a week later, he died.
Detectives believe he died from a medical illness, but the medical examiner has yet to determine his official cause of death.
Devonshire was a suspect in two homicides in the city of Sarasota. Authorities say the two women were found dead on North Tamiami Trail within weeks of each other.
The 52-year-old was charged in the death of the first woman, Kelliann Ripley of Sarasota, after police found a DNA match between genetic material found on Ripley’s body and a mouth swab from Devonshire. Police said Ripley was killed by blunt force trauma and strangulation.
While police only officially charged him in Ripley’s death, they said he was linked to the second victim’s death as well.
“We have indisputable evidence that links Devonshire to both of the homicides that occurred in February and March of this year,” said Captain Johnathan Todd, Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division. “After analyzing the evidence in both homicides, we have determined that William Devonshire committed both crimes. Our detectives were in the process of writing a probable cause affidavit charging Devonshire with the murder of the second female victim in March of this year when we learned of his death.”
Police said the homicide cases will now be closed because the State Attorney’s Office of the 12th Judicial
Circuit cannot prosecute a dead suspect.
“These family members who were victimized here, I’m sure they would like to come to a different closure but as I said earlier, God will take care of that,” said Sarasota Police Chief Rex Troche.
The investigators who poured countless hours into the homicide cases explained they’re having mixed feelings about the suspect’s death.
“At the end of the line, you want to give families closure because that is really the only way that you can do this kind of work every day, day in and day out,” said Detective Maria Llovio. “It takes a lot out of you, it takes a lot out of yourself and your families, so giving that to the family is the one thing we hang onto,” she continued.