Williams’ searches analyzed | TheUnion.com

Williams’ searches analyzed

In the hunt for Danny Williams’ killer, detectives seized his girlfriend’s bank and phone records, according to search warrant returns filed Friday in Nevada County Superior Court.

But the records weren’t necessarily helpful in the homicide investigation.

“It’s still a whodunit. We’re still looking for a break in the case,” said Undersheriff John Trauner.

The search warrant affidavits, however, offer a deeper look into Williams’ past and events surrounding his unsolved slaying at his San Juan Ridge home Oct. 2.

The affidavits provide investigation background and investigators’ justification for seeking a search warrant. Much of the justification hinges on statements from Williams’ girlfriend, Diana J. Gibbs.

About 15 years before the couple met, Gibbs said, Williams dealt methamphetamine for a short time, but got out of the business because he wasn’t successful at it. His drug connections were with two Bay Area men, she said.

After Williams’ death, Gibbs said, she found a handwritten list in a safe at Williams’ other house, a mobile home in Shasta County, that detailed the ingredients and equipment needed to manufacture methamphetamine. Gibbs gave detectives the note and said the handwriting wasn’t his.

The affidavit also said Gibbs was cooperative with detectives at first. She gave a recorded statement, allowed her home to be searched, and allowed a gunpowder residue test done to her hands, which was negative.

But she later cut off communications and hired a criminal defense lawyer.

Stephen Munkelt of Munkelt, Phillips and Walters in Nevada City said Friday that Gibbs hired his firm, but wouldn’t comment further. Gibbs also has a probate lawyer in a pending dispute with Williams’ mother over the victim’s assets.

Williams, 51, was shot in the back of his head as he worked on a car in his garage.

“The victim’s lug wrench was still attached to one of the lug nuts of the replacement tire,” the affidavit said. “There was no evidence of any fight or struggle. Due to the condition of the scene and the type of wound inflicted, it appeared the victim may have been shot by someone known to him.”

Gibbs reported finding him after she returned from a friend’s home, washed dishes, cleaned the house, and went to the garage, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Smith has said the seizure of bank records helped corroborate Gibbs’ story that she had left a $250 check at the friend’s house.

Detectives also wanted bank records because “murder is often the result of illegal drug transactions, both failed and successful …,” the affidavit said.

The warrant returns listed the records in general terms, but didn’t itemize specific phone calls or bank transactions. Detectives seized bank statements and copies of canceled checks from Tri Counties Bank and Bank of America, and phone records from Pacific Bell.

It’s unclear when the calls or transactions were made. The Sheriff’s Office wanted records of incoming and outgoing calls from Gibbs’ home between Sept. 24 and the killing, and bank records from May 2000 through last October.

The couple had lived as husband and wife since May 6, 2000, but never legally married, the affidavit said.

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