Editor’s note: This online article has been updated from the version printed in the April 14, 2021, paper, giving additional details about Hill’s court appearance and surrender to law enforcement. The hearing occurred after the Times’ press deadline Tuesday.
William T. Hill, 34, of Gainesville, appeared in court April 13 before Associate Judge Raymond Gross where he was arraigned on a class E felony charge of property damage in connection with a destructive episode in which he reportedly broke out windows, damaged a door and smashed furniture and fixtures after the June 9, 2020, death of his brother, Boyd Hill. The damaged structure belonged to his deceased brother and his wife, Amanda Hill, court documents say.
He is scheduled to reappear in Ozark County court for a criminal setting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 15. If convicted of the class E felony charge of property damage, Hill could face up to four years in prison.
Supervised bond release
During the court appearance, Hill turned himself over to the custody of the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department for two active warrants filed for his arrest; however, the judge granted Hill supervised bond release on his own recognizance, meaning the court is taking Hill’s word that he will appear for his future court appearances.
“This type of release is totally discretionary with the court and in order to qualify for this special treatment you will be supervised and required to comply with special conditions,” the bond release order indicates. “Since this is a discretionary release with the court, should you fail to comply with any of the restrictions the court can revoke the OR [own recognizance] release, issue a warrant for your arrest, and require your full bond be posted.”
The conditions of the release include a mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program through Higher Ground Recovery House (HGRH), in which Hill will be financially responsible to pay for and remain. Hill is also required to have daily alcohol testing, testing for other substances at the discretion of the HGRH, have no contact with the victim in the case (Amanda Hill), not consume of alcohol or drugs, appear for all court hearings and not leave HGRH except for work, meeting with an attorney, traveling fo medical care, pharmaceutical needs, groceries and other “subsistence matters.” The order is clear that Hill is not to pursue any recreational activities if he does leave the treatment center.
A man wearing blood-smeared shirt in a ‘fighting mood’
According to the probable cause statement filed in the case, former Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Vesa Phelan was dispatched at 2:30 p.m. June 9 to an Isabella business, which is unnamed in the report but is thought to be Shockey’s Boat & Motor Repair on HH Highway at County Road 621. Phelan was responding to a woman’s call to the sheriff’s department saying a tall, slender young man wearing a white shirt smeared with blood had approached the business.
The woman “asked the individual if he was okay. At the time, she did not know who he was,” the probable cause statement says. “The man stated to her that she needed to move along because he was in a ‘fighting mood.’”
Phelan spoke with the woman on the phone and responded to the site, but the man, later identified as William Hill, had already left.
What the business owner did not know was that 29-year-old Boyd Hill, the younger brother of William Hill, had died in a rollover crash on Z Highway a few hours before the strange encounter.
Boyd Hill, his wife Amanda, and their children lived in a home on County Road 621, not far from the business.
‘Fixing all the damage’
Former Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Urich joined Phelan at the business to help investigate.
While speaking with the reporting party, Deputy Urich and Sergeant Phelan “saw Brian Hill…driving down County Road 621 toward the late Boyd Hill and spouse’s residence,” the report says, clarifying that Brian Hill is a third brother of William and Boyd.
“A short time later, he drove back out. Sergeant Phelan spoke with Brian Hill, and William Hill was sitting in the passenger’s seat. He was wearing a white shirt that had blood on it,” the statement says.
Phelan went to the truck and asked Brian if William, who was wearing the bloody shirt, was OK.
“Brian Hill stated they were all having a hard time with the death of their brother,” Phelan wrote. “William Hill was intoxicated but was calm while they spoke with him.”
The report said that Brian then told the officer “something about fixing all the damage,” which left the officers puzzled. The report says that Phelan thought maybe Brian was talking about damage to the business where they’d been dispatched, but the business owner hadn’t mentioned any damage.”
A house ransacked
The deputies began to piece the strange conversation together when the sheriff’s dispatch office received a call at 9:19 that night.
“It was reported that a residence had been ransacked and the windows broken out,” the report says. “The reporting party [identified later in the report as Amanda Hill] stated she was afraid to go into the house and needed to get clothes for her stepdaughter.”
Two days later, Phelan met with Amanda Hill, who told the officer that her husband, Boyd, had died in a car accident the day her house was broken into.
“She stated that while she was gone, taking her children to the hospital in Springfield, … her brothers-in-law broke into her house,” the report says. “They broke eight windows, the storm door, smashed a 60-inch television, broke two kitchen chairs, a china cabinet, smashed her husband’s Ronald McDonald cookie jar, took her and Boyd’s marriage certificate and just ransacked the house.”
Amanda told the officer she was unsure at that time if anything else was missing from the home.
The charging document also lists a Kawasaki UTV and doghouse as being damaged, and it says the interior of the residence was spray-painted with graffiti.
Installed windows ‘not of the correct dimensions’
A few nights later, Phelan made a traffic stop on a vehicle.
“It happened to be William Hill and his spouse,” the report says.
Phelan asked the Hills about the damage at the residence and said the property owner, Amanda, wanted to press charges. William told Phelan that he was actually just coming from Amanda’s house, where he had replaced all the broken windows in the residence, “and he thought everything was OK.”
On July 7, about a month after the initial incident, Amanda Hill reportedly contacted Phelan to discuss the investigation about the property damage.
“[She] indicated the replaced windows were not of the correct dimensions and needed to be replaced,” the report says.
The next day, July 8, Phelan went to Brian Hill’s residence on County Road 831 in Gainesville and interviewed the brother about the alleged property damage. Phelan also served Brian Hill with an ex-parte order of protection and also an order of protection filed against him with Amanda Hill as the petitioner.
“Brian Hill indicated he did not observe his brother cause damage to the property owner’s residence but acknowledged giving him a ride from the area and speaking with a deputy after the fact,” the report says. “Brian Hill indicated William Hill later purchased windows for replacement in the sum of greater than $2,000. Brian Hill expressed multiple individuals participated in the replacement of the windows. Brian Hill indicated there was a problem with the installation of the windows but expressed he would assist in further repairs.”
‘I do not remember’
Before speaking with Brian, Phelan had attempted to reach William but was unsuccessful, the report says. Soon after Phelan arrived back at the sheriff’s office, William came to the office to speak with Phelan.
“William Hill did not directly provide admissions pertaining to damaging windows, the television, motorcycle or any other damages associated with the report,” Phlean wrote. “However, [he] would simply state, ‘I don’t remember’ or words to this effect. William Hill did acknowledge he purchased $2,500 in windows to replace the damages.”
A word from the widow
Amanda Hill reached out to the Ozark County Times in an email early last month to describe the situation.
“On June 9th, 2020, at 1:48 p.m., my husband died in a car accident on Z [Highway]. Our three children were in the truck. Two of them got ejected from the vehicle, and my youngest son got lodged behind my husband, Boyd Hill. All three of my children saw their father dead, halfway ejected from the windshield of the driver window,” Amanda wrote.
Amanda said that as their middle child was taken by air ambulance to Cox South Hospital in Springfield, she took her oldest and youngest children to get medical treatment for their wounds.
“Few hours later when I was on my way to Kansas City hospital, I got a call from my father and brother stating that my house was broken into and all the glass was broke out of my house,” Amanda wrote. “I couldn’t bring my children home for quite a bit of time due to the damages done to our home. It’s wrong no matter how you want to look at any of this - that me and my children had to go through any of this.”
She expressed frustration that charges had not been filed last year immediately after the incident.
Not the first alleged violent incident
William Hill currently has an unrelated case in which he’s charged with domestic assault, unlawful use of a weapon (having a loaded firearm and discharging it while intoxicated), unlawful possession of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon (exhibiting a weapon in the presence of others capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner).
That charge is in connection with a Feb. 7 incident in which William Hill is alleged to have discharged a 12-gauge shotgun while intoxicated, swinging the firearm in a threatening manner and injuring his wife by punching her in the head and face, striking her in the abdomen with a shotgun and choking her with his hands around her neck. Hill’s wife reportedly hit him in the head with an oil lamp to get free and then called the sheriff’s department for help.
Two minor children were reportedly at the residence at the time of the assault, court reports say.
A warrant without bond was issued in that case on Feb. 25, but Hill has not yet been arrested. Defense attorney John William Bruffett of Ava has filed as Hill’s counsel.