Carla Abuata thought someone was stealing her car when she looked out her window while making coffee early in the morning Nov. 19 and saw two police officers with guns drawn, searching the area. She peeked out the front door of her Decatur home on South Candler Road and saw more officers and more guns, and before she could process any of it, one of them told her to get back inside.
An officer showed up several minutes later and told her the son of her neighbor, wanted for murder in Athens, had returned home, armed himself with a knife and forced a standoff with police that lasted nearly four hours. It didn’t strike Abuata as an extraordinary surprise. She said she had met her neighbor’s son, 30-year-old William Joseph Studstill, before and thought he was strange.
“He was quiet, spacey, like he was in another world,” she said.
Studstill was arrested after 9 a.m. and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with minor injuries sustained before he was taken into custody. Athens police believe Studstill murdered his wife, 33-year-old Stephanie Ann Studstill, with a butcher knife in their southeastern Clarke County home early on Nov. 19 and drove to his mother’s South Candler Road home where he dialed 911 and told police he had “killed his whole family,” police said. The couple did not have children, however.
When police and SWAT arrived at the house, they blocked off South Candler for about two blocks, forcing cars to take alternate routes. A throng of reporter and TV crews stood north of the taped-off area on the normally quiet street just south of Agnes Scott College.
“It was scary when (police) wouldn’t tell me what was wrong,” said Robin Blocker, 50, of Decatur. “I’ve never seen a SWAT truck.”
Athens police retrieved Studstill on Thursday afternoon and took him to a Clarke County jail on a murder warrant.
Abuata said she remembered Studstill’s mother, Laura, mentioning that William struggled with depression. When she met him, he seemed quiet and distant. Several months ago, he took a cab from Athens to Decatur, arrived at his mother’s home and asked Abuata to pay the cab fare. Studstill’s mother wasn’t home, and when Abuata declined to pay the fare, he called a family friend who lived in the neighborhood. The friend came over and took care of the bill, Abuata said.
“He was a little strange,” she said.
Studstill had a history of problems with his wife and the law. Athens police responded to a simple battery call at his apartment several weeks ago, but Stephanie Studstill declined to press charges, said Lt. David Leedahl with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
Studstill was also arrested in Bristol Township, Pa., on robbery, burglary and criminal trespassing charges in 2000, Leedahl said. Studstill pleaded guilty on all charge and served six months in Bucks County correctional facility.