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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Sexual abuse - Satan had ordered him to kill the two boys
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: November 4/December 14, 1987
Date of arrest: December 29, 1987
Date of birth: 1966
Victims profile: Frankie Lee Barnes Jr., 9 / Jason Wolf, 6
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Beating with a blunt instrument
Location: Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Status: Found innocent because of insanity on March 15, 1989. Confined indefinitely at the state Institute for Mental Health in Cranston

William Sarmento, who admitted killing two children, Frankie Lee Barnes Jr. and Jason Wolf in Providence in 1987, elected to waive a jury trial and was acquitted in 1989 by a Superior Court judge who decided the case on his own. Sarmento is still confined in the forsenic unit at Eleanor Slater Hospital.

In his confession to police, Sarmento, who was 22 at the time, said he was tormented by visions of the devil. Evidence introduced at his trial showed a documented pattern of bizarre, sometimes violent behavior that could be traced back to Sarmento's first years in elementary school. As a teen, he spent months living in sewers, abandoned houses, his family's dog house. He became fascinated by Satan, guns, knives and read the Bible incessantly. His moods and behavior swung unpredictably.


William Sarmento

On November 4, 1987, nine-year-old Frankie Barnes was reported missing when he failed to return from a neighborhood bike ride in Providence, Rhode Island. 

His bicycle was found two weeks later, concealed in tall grass near an abandoned brewery, less than a half-mile from his home. A month later, on December 14, six-year-old Jason Wolf vanished in Providence, after his mother sent him out to retrieve the daily mail. 

Teenagers found his body on December 21, two miles from home, discarded in some brush near Mashapaug Pond. An autopsy revealed the cause of death as blows to the head, inflicted with a blunt instrument.

Police were still puzzling over the case five days later, when they received an anonymous note in the mail. It read: You will find the little boy by a wooden cross near Tongue Pond. I didn't want to do it. Satan ordered me to. I hope you will kill me, cops, because I don't know why I killed the children. 

Following the note's instructions, searchers found Frankie Barnes on the northern shoreline of Tongue Pond, his body gashed by multiple stab wounds. An examination of the envelope revealed faint impressions of a man's name, followed by the phrase: "Catch me if you can, ha, ha, ha."

Police called on the suspect, and he suggested his name might have been used by an enemy, William Sarmento, who had recently tried to seduce the man's girlfriend. Police were familiar with the 21-year-old Sarmento. 

In 1985, he pled guilty to assaulting a neighborhood dog catcher and was sentenced to one year's probation. Three days later, he was picked up again, on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, and he served 20 days in jail for violating his probation.

Residents of Frankie Barnes's neighborhood recalled seeing Sarmento in the vicinity, and investigation disclosed that Sarmento was a childhood acquaintance of Jason Wolf's mother. Detectives held a press conference on December 29, 1987, naming Sarmento as their primary suspect in two murders. 

Later that day, he was seen ducking into a cellar and police were summoned to make the arrest. Held without bond pending psychiatric evaluation, Sarmento is rumored to have confessed to both homicides.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Neighbor Is Held in Deaths of 2 Rhode Island Boys

The New York Times

December 31, 1987

PROVIDENCE, R.I. A man who neighbors say often dressed in fatigues and wielded a knife was arraigned today in the killings of two boys and ordered held in a state mental hospital.

The police arrested William Sarmento unarmed and without incident Tuesday afternoon, three hours after announcing that he was a murder suspect and the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

Today, Judge Francis Derigan of District Court ordered the defendant held without bail at the State Institute of Mental Health until a Jan. 8 bail hearing after Assistant Attorney General James Ryan cited ''the brutal nature of the murder of the two young boys.''

Psychiatric Testing Ordered

The defendant, manacled and surrounded by six court officers, appeared dazed and did not speak in the brief arraignment. He will undergo psychiatric evaluation at the mental institution, according to the judge's order.

Mr. Sarmento, 21 years old, lived about a mile from where the bodies of the two victims, Frankie Barnes, 9 years old, and Jason Wolf, 6 years old, were discovered earlier this month.

Frankie, who disappeared Nov. 4 while riding his bicycle near his home, drowned and had been stabbed, the authorities said. Jason disappeared Dec. 14. His body, discovered one week later, showed evidence of having been battered and sexually abused, the police said.

Mr. Sarmento was found Tuesday in a cellar after the police received a tip on his whereabouts, Police Chief Anthony Mancuso said.

''We now believe we have probable cause and sufficient evidence to present this case to a grand jury,'' state Attorney General James E. O'Neil said at a news conference Tuesday.

Chief Mancuso said Mr. Sarmento became a suspect after writing a letter the police chief received the day after Christmas.

The police chief declined comment on the contents, but The Providence Journal and WJAR-TV reported over the weekend that the author said Satan had ordered him to kill the two boys.

''I hope you will kill me, cops, because I don't know why I killed the children,'' the note reportedly said. ''Keep boys and kids away from me.''

'He'd Stab the House'

A neighbor recalled that Mr. Sarmento liked to dress in fatigues and thrust a machete or smaller knife into a boarded-up house.

''He'd stab the house with a knife, for at least 20 minutes to half an hour,'' said William Perry, who lives next door to the apartment Mr. Sarmento shared with his parents.

Carole Perry said Mr. Sarmento would climb a tree ''like a monkey'' and jab knives into it.

A friend of Mr. Sarmento, 19-year-old Paulette McAlpine, said she did not believe the accusations. Ms. McAlpine said Mr. Sarmento ''was going to night school classes to get a high school diploma.'' She added, ''He wanted to get ahead.''


SEX: M   RACE: W   TYPE: T    MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific

MO: Killed two young boys, blaming orders from Satan.

DISPOSITION: Ruled incompetente committed to asylum, 1989.



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