NBC’s ‘Dateline’ has been bringing us the intriguing stories of real-life cases and events ever since it premiered back in 1992. Therefore, their extensive archive comprises of everything from compelling mysteries to powerful documentaries to in-depth investigations, all of which focus on getting to the bottom of the event. Its episode entitled ‘Death in the Driveway,’ depicting the murder case of former York Mayor Melvin Roberts, is no different. This particular case highlights how the investigators went through a long list of suspects only to zero in on Melvin’s girlfriend, Julia Phillips, over and over again. Along with her, another suspect was her son, William Hunter Stephens.
Who Is William Hunter Stephens?
When Melvin Roberts was shot, hit at the back of his head, and then strangled in the driveway of his home on the cold, rainy evening of February 4, 2010, it was his girlfriend, Julia Phillips, who called the police. When investigators arrived at the scene, she fed them a story of how she was tied up and held in the rain by a black or Hispanic robber. But, thankfully, the police never believed her, especially because she was neither wet nor tied up in a way that was consistent with proper binding. What made them even more suspicious was the fact that she had called William Hunter Stephens, her son, twice before she dialed 911.
From that point on, William Hunter Stephens became a person of interest in the case as well. The police were able to piece together why Julia wanted her boyfriend of 10 years dead (financial stability), but they never could figure out the role William had to play in it. Although, in 2011, at the age of 47, he was arrested on a completely unrelated felony drug and fraud charge. The latter was linked to a credit card fraud, amounting to more than $12,000, that was opened in Julia Phillips’s dead husband’s name – Bryant Phillips, who had passed away in 1999.
This fraud charge stemmed from a report which was filed by one of Bryant’s daughters, alleging that several credit cards and accounts were opened in her dead father’s name by Julia and William. And, even though Julia was mentioned in the report by name, it was only William who faced the brunt of it. In 2013, he pleaded guilty of the drug and fraud charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. That same year, during his mother’s murder trial, he admitted to being a suspect for Melvin’s death, but he provided the jury with a rock-solid alibi.
A retired police officer from Gaffney testified in court and placed William miles away from the scene of the crime, with someone else, at the time of the murder. Thus, with no concrete evidence against him, William Hunter Stephens has never been charged in this case.
Where Is William Hunter Stephens Today?
William Hunter Stephens was released from prison in late 2015, according to some reports. But, when his mother, Julia, passed away on July 6 of the same year, the York Police Department vowed to keep the case active until everyone involved in it is caught. According to them, and the prosecutors, Melvin Roberts’ murder was not a one-woman job. They thoroughly believe that Julia was in cohorts with at least one more individual, if not more. And, to this day, for the law enforcement officials, William remains a person of interest. The Gaffney native has previously even claimed that he was charged with the drug crimes back in 2011 just because the police wanted to nail him for the murder.
Even though William has never been charged, due to lack of evidence, the officials have interviewed him over and over again, while he was behind bars and since. He has even been subjected to give answers while being strapped to a lie detector. And now, although the police believe that he was not at home when the murder took place, they do think that he will be crucial in solving the crime, even now, more than 10 years later. According to them, he was included in this crime when his mother called him twice that day, so they will keep a track of him until the case is completely solved. While we do know that William Hunter Stephens still resides in South Carolina, unfortunately, any other information about what he does or even if he has any other family is not available.
Read More: How Did Julia’s Husband Die?