Murderer and Accused Cannibal to Be Freed in August
Mar 7, 2011 – 8:50 PM
Senior Crime Reporter
Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Convicted killer Michael Woodmansee benefited from a reward system that shaved 12 years off his 40-year prison sentence.
A plea deal intended to spare a murdered child's family the horrific details of his death has come back to haunt residents of a historic town in Rhode Island. The killer, an accused cannibal who was a teenager when the crime was committed more than 30 years ago, will be free before the end of the year, according to police.
"We do not know what his plans are or if he is [planning on coming back here], but it is definitely something we plan on discussing," a spokesman for the South Kingstown Police Department told AOL News today.
While police have yet to formulate a plan for the impending release of convicted murderer Michael Woodmansee, the father of his victim, a 5-year-old boy named Jason Foreman, is not mincing words.
"I do intend, if this man is released anywhere in my vicinity, or if I can find [him], I do intend to kill this man," John Foreman told Rhode Island's WPRO News talk radio today.
According to The Providence Journal, Woodmansee was a withdrawn 16-year-old boy on May 18, 1975 –- the day he lured Jason into his home, stabbed the boy in the heart and hid the small body in a trunk.
Woodmansee lived up the street from the Foreman home. The day he took Jason's life was the boy's mother's 25th birthday -– a time of happiness that would forever after be associated with pain and heartache.
Woodmansee later told police he had fantasized that "it would be easy [to kill someone], easy to get away with it, and some form of fun,'' according to the Journal.
For eight years, frustrated authorities conducted a nationwide manhunt for Jason. Some feared he had been kidnapped, but no one suspected the whole, horrific truth -- that a disturbed killer had taken his life, removed his flesh and shellacked his bones.
The pieces in the case began to come together on April 15, 1982, when a bearded Woodmansee invited a 14-year-old newspaper delivery boy named Dale Sherman into his house. After supplying the boy with hard liquor and beer, Woodmansee attempted to strangle the teen, police said. Sherman fought back and managed to escape and run home, where his dad called police.
Taken to police headquarters, Woodmansee initially denied any wrongdoing. Because the allegations involved a boy, investigators decided to question him about Jason. Shortly thereafter, he confessed to sexually assaulting and killing the child, police said.
When authorities searched Woodmansee's home, they found Jason's skull and other miscellaneous bones on top of the man's dresser. They also discovered a journal in which he detailed the young boy's gruesome death, police said.
On Feb. 24, 1983, Woodmansee pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. According to The Associated Press, prosecutors agreed to the plea bargain to spare the family the horrific details of the boy's death and to avoid a grisly trial.
After sentencing Woodmansee, Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Needham ordered his journal and all other evidence in the case sealed. Needham said the accounts within it were too disturbing for Jason's family to see.
For decades, rumors have surfaced about the journal. Speaking with WPRO today, John Foreman alleged that Woodmansee was a cannibal and said the killer had eaten his son's flesh off his bones.
The boy was finally buried in March 1983, roughly two weeks after his killer pleaded guilty. Jason's mother, Joice, who often spoke with the media about the case, died in 2000.
For more than 25 years, Woodmansee has remained behind bars, all but forgotten by the general public. All that changed last week, however, when the now 52-year-old convict was transferred to a correctional institution in Cranston. The move is part of a process to prepare Woodmansee for his August release date.
The killer, according to the Journal, has benefited from a prison reward system that shaved roughly 12 years off his 40-year prison sentence.
Superior Court Judge Susan E. McGuirl, the former state prosecutor who agreed to the plea bargain, did not immediately return calls for comment from AOL News today. Speaking with the Journal, she said news of Woodmansee's pending release was "shocking."
"Certainly there would not have been any anticipation of him getting out in 28 years," she told the newspaper.
While Woodmansee's plans for the future remain unclear, one thing that is clear is that he is won't get a warm reception if he decides to return home.
"I have taken the position that he is not welcomed in this community and that as a resident and the police chief, I don't think it would be safe or prudent for him to be here," South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia told The South County Independent.
Jason's father cannot bear to think that his killer could return to their town.
"I have been able to visit Jason and his mother, Joice, at their gravesite with only love in my heart for them. But now I'm afraid to visit, now that the terrible memories are back to haunt me and my family," John Foreman told the Journal. "There is no forgiveness in me, only revenge."