Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayport Healing after 5 Killings Stun Community

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayport Healing after 5 Killings Stun Community

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

Mayport residents are confident the negative spotlight shining on the sleepy fishing village after five killings and the suspect's 12-hour standoff will fade like a sunset on the St. Johns River.

"In a small area like Mayport, everybody knows everybody and the impact hits every family," said John Meserve, who heads the Mayport Waterfront Partnership, a civic group that's working on improving the area. "There will be an aura of gloom for a long time. But it will fade."

William Wells, 27, surrendered to police Sunday after the standoff at his Ocean Street home, where he threatened to kill himself; he eventually released his 4-year-old son unharmed. Wells is charged with shooting his wife -- the boy's mother -- Irene Wells, 30; her father, Bill McMains, 60; her brother, John Seaborn McMains, 32; and acquaintances Richard Louis Reese, 39, and James Lee Young, 20. Friends said Wells was upset after learning his wife planned to divorce him.

Police said the killings started May 14, when Irene Wells last was seen. The bodies were found in four bedrooms, some of which were sealed with duct tape.

The killings are added devastation for the McMains family. On March 2, 2000, Irene Wells' 7-year-old son from a previous marriage, Louis Floyd Jr., was killed by a truck on Ocean Street. Also, Bill and Angie's Seafood Place, a restaurant the McMainses owned until a few months ago, was set on fire several times in the early 1990s, apparently in connection with neighborhood feuds.

"It's a very sad thing," Meserve said.

The case led Assistant Chief Rick Townsend, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office zone commander for the Mayport area, to second-guess himself about the police response to events that preceded the shootings.

He said he asked himself, "Did we miss something?"

But after talking with officers who patrol the area and considering how they handled a May 20 report that Wells shot a neighbor's Rottweiler, he concluded there was nothing to raise red flags about activity inside the house. …

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