Man Says 7-Year-Old Joke Led to Killing
Updated: Monday, Apr. 25, 2005 - 5:28 PM
By JOANN LOVIGLIO
Associated Press Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A black man shot a white former co-worker to death on Easter, claiming he did it because he overheard the victim telling a racist joke seven years ago, authorities said Monday.
Stanford A. Douglas Jr., 29, was arrested Sunday after a two-hour standoff with police. He was charged with murder and jailed without bail.
Douglas allegedly shot William Berkeyheiser, 62, three times in the chest and shoulder on March 27 after he opened the front door of his home.
Douglas told investigators he had thought about killing Berkeyheiser ever since he overheard Berkeyheiser tell someone a joke with racial overtones in 1998, Bucks County District Attorney Diane Gibbons said. Douglas refused to recount for detectives the joke that made him so angry, according to court papers.
The two men had worked at the Baptist Home of Philadelphia in 1998, Douglas as a maintenance man and Berkeyheiser as an executive in plant operations.
The victim's wife, Viola Berkeyheiser, who is of Asian decent, said she was certain her husband would never have told a racist joke.
"He was a very funny, very witty man, and he did make people laugh," she said. "But he would never, never, never have done anything like that. I'm a minority. ... That just wasn't who he was."
It was not immediately clear if Douglas had an attorney.
Douglas had hired a private investigator to find Berkeyheiser's house, the district attorney said. He was identified after authorities released a surveillance videotape from a convenience store near Berkeyheiser's home. A clerk said the man on the tape asked for directions to Berkeyheiser's street just minutes before the killing.
Berkeyheiser's widow attended Douglas' arraignment and said afterward: "I needed to see what kind of a monster would do something like this for no reason."