Rhode Island Father Vows To Murder Man Who Killed/Ate His 5-Year-Old Son If Released From Prison...
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March 8, 2011 - 8:02am
Potential release sparks outrage
01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 By Tom Mooney Providence Journal Staff Writer
A day after The Providence Sunday Journal reported the scheduled early release of child-slayer Michael Woodmansee, hundreds of outraged readers called the offices of the state attorney general and Corrections Department on Monday demanding that the killer who shellacked the little boy’s bones remain behind bars.
Meanwhile, as John Foreman, the father of 5-year-old Jason Foreman, reiterated his intention to seek revenge –– telling a radio audience that if given a chance he would kill the “monster” who “ate the flesh of my son” –– Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin urged corrections officials to “consider all avenues” to keep Woodmansee confined.
The one avenue corrections officials are considering is having Woodmansee involuntarily committed to a secure psychiatric facility before his August release — if psychiatrists deem him mentally ill.
Only once before have corrections officials attempted to keep a potentially dangerous inmate confined after his release date: in 2006, the department started down the road to involuntarily commit serial rapist Todd McElroy.
But before a District Court judge could make a final decision, McElroy voluntarily committed himself.
Woodmansee, who served virtually all of the last 28 years in prisons in Massachusetts for his own protection, returned to Rhode Island last week.
“We made the decision to bring him back well in advance of the end of his term of incarceration because we wanted to fully explore what the options would be after his sentence ended,” said Corrections Director A.T. Wall. “The law allows in a certain narrow category, commitment for mental-health reasons.”
In 1975, Woodmansee, then 16, stabbed to death 5-year-old Jason Foreman who lived on the same Peace Dale village street in South Kingstown.
Authorities found the boy’s shellacked bones and skull in Woodmansee’s bedroom seven years later after Woodmansee tried to strangle the local paper boy and ended up confessing to killing Jason.
But in 1983, as part of a plea-bargain arrangement, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. A judge ordered him to serve 40 years of a 50-year sentence.
(As part of the plea arrangement, Woodmansee also received 10 years for assaulting the second boy. That term ran concurrently with the longer sentence.)
Because of a long-standing “good time” law, Woodmansee is coming up for release 12 years sooner than many people might have expected –– or seem willing to accept.
Under the earned good time law that Wall says has been on the books since 1960, Woodmansee regularly had 12 days a month subtracted from his sentence: 10 days for good behavior and 2 days for holding a prison job.
The rumor that Woodmansee had cannibalized Jason Foreman’s body has haunted South Kingstown ever since Woodmansee confessed to the killing that April day in 1982.
Patrick Strickland was a young new officer of the South Kingstown police force when he interrogated Woodmansee and helped gain his confession.
Strickland and former prosecutor Susan E. McGuirl, now a Superior Court judge, said last week that they doubted if Woodmansee ever admitted to police he had cannibalized the body, or that the detail was ever included in police reports.
The atrocity, however, is referenced in a form of journal Woodmansee wrote and which the police found when they searched his house. Woodmansee told the police the journal’s contents were fictional.
However, the detail was so explosive that Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Needham sealed all evidence in the case, including the journal, which has remained under lock and key with South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia.
Monday morning Vespia was on WPRO radio with John DePetro, speaking about the case, when John Foreman called in and told Vespia he should have the journal.
“I want to know all the facts,” Foreman said, explaining he wanted to kill Woodmansee in the same manner used to kill his son.
“If I can find him … I do intend to kill this man as aggressively, as painfully as he killed my son,” said John Foreman. “He ate the flesh of my son … before he cleaned the bones.”
Woodmansee was found competent to stand trial in 1982.
The civil-commitment law allows a petition for commitment to be filed in a state District Court by someone’s relatives or a variety of state officials, including the attorney general or the director of corrections.
The petitioner must show that someone’s “continued unsupervised presence in the community would create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental disability.”
As part of the process, two physicians must evaluate the inmate in an effort to meet the law’s standard of proof.
Wall said Woodmansee has only been in Rhode Island for a week and prison officials are still awaiting records from prisons in Massachusetts.
“We’ve just begun the process of assessing him and conducting psychiatric evaluations,” said Wall.