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Alton man found guilty in 2018 murder of elderly man says 'it gave him a rush'

The victim, Eldon Williams, was well-known in his community, serving as the Godfrey tax assessor for more than 50 years
Credit: Madison County State’s Attorney's Office

ALTON, Ill. — An Alton man was recently found guilty of murdering an elderly man in 2018.

Donald Nelson was found guilty, but mentally ill, of first-degree murder, armed violence, unlawful possession of a stolen firearm, unlawful possession of weapons and criminal trespass to a residence.

On Oct. 16, 2018 at around 11:55 a.m., police arrived at 211 West Delmar Avenue in Alton and found an elderly man dead in the driver’s seat of a Lincoln car. The man had a gunshot wound to the back of his head, according to a press release.

He was later identified as Eldon C. “Twirp” Williams Jr. of Godfrey.

Williams was well-known in his community, serving as the Godfrey tax assessor for more than 50 years and he was a member of the Godfrey Village Board.

Police took Donald Nelson into custody where he confessed to murdering Williams. Nelson told police the murder was not an accident and that he planned it. He said he would do it again because "it gave him a rush," the release stated.

Nelson’s defense claimed he suffered from a mental illness and was insane when he murdered Williams but First Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe argued that he didn’t claim to have hallucinations or hear voices until three months after being charged.

A clinical psychologist testified that it was his opinion that while Nelson suffered from Schizoaffective disorder, he was faking his symptoms and was sane at the time of the murder.

The court found that Nelson was cognizant of his actions at the time of the murder but also said Nelson sought mental health treatment in the past and was failed due to a lack of funding for mental health centers. So, Nelson was found guilty but also mentally ill of all counts.

"When something this terrible happens to any member of our community, we are all impacted. Because Mr. Williams was and remains an icon and had touched the lives of so many people in Godfrey and the region, the loss of his life is felt by such a great number of us who are grieving alongside his family and loved ones. I will continue to pray for them that they may find peace and justice in this verdict and can continue on their path to healing from his tragic death," said Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons.

Nelson’s sentencing will be held at a later date. He will spend the rest of his life in the Illinois Department of Corrections receiving mental health services, according to the release.

PRESS RELEASE October 1, 2020 Edwardsville—An Alton, IL man is guilty of the merciless murder of an 87-year-old...

Posted by Madison County IL State's Attorney's Office on Thursday, October 1, 2020