Suspect charged with murder in Center Line woman’s death

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 14, 2020

 William Faulkner, 68, of Center Line, was arraigned on the charge of first-degree murder Jan. 13 for his alleged fatal stabbing of Juliette Peterson in Center Line.

William Faulkner, 68, of Center Line, was arraigned on the charge of first-degree murder Jan. 13 for his alleged fatal stabbing of Juliette Peterson in Center Line.

Photo by Brian Louwers

 Detective Sgt. Michael Gerald and Detective Dan Petroff of the Center Line Public Safety Department speak with family members of Juliette Peterson in court for the arraignment of William Faulkner.

Detective Sgt. Michael Gerald and Detective Dan Petroff of the Center Line Public Safety Department speak with family members of Juliette Peterson in court for the arraignment of William Faulkner.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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“My mom was the sweetest person, man. She would probably give you the shirt off her back."

Leslie Robinson, son of victim and suspect

WARREN — Family members said 68-year-old Juliette Peterson knew William Faulkner for decades and that while they were living under the same roof, they were not in a relationship on Jan. 9, the day Faulkner allegedly stabbed her to death.

On Jan. 13, Faulkner, who is also 68, stood before a judge and was charged with first-degree murder, ordered jailed and deemed ineligible to post bail.  

Peterson’s body was found in the bathtub of her apartment on Liberal Street in Center Line, west of Van Dyke Avenue and just across 10 Mile Road from the city’s Public Safety Department, where Faulkner allegedly arrived at about 10:30 p.m. that day and asked officers to check on Peterson’s welfare.

Before entering the Public Safety Department, Faulkner allegedly drove Peterson’s vehicle to his sister’s home in Detroit, where he reportedly told her that he needed to turn himself in. He later contacted Michigan State Police at the Metro North Post in Oak Park to inquire about having someone check on Peterson, but was directed to contact the authorities in Center Line.

Detective Sgt. Michael Gerald, of the Center Line Public Safety Department, said Faulkner wouldn’t answer basic questions when he arrived at the station and that officers became suspicious. They accompanied him to the apartment, where Faulkner used keys to unlock the doors to the building and the apartment.

A Center Line officer who entered the apartment found the bathroom door closed with lights on. The officer reportedly entered the bathroom, pulled back the shower curtain and found Peterson’s body fully clothed in the bathtub.

The medical examiner reportedly identified two stab wounds: one on Peterson’s collarbone and the other on her left side, under the armpit. Potential evidence collected for forensic analysis included a knife that appeared to bear threads matching Peterson’s sweater, with possible blood on the blade and handle. Faulkner’s shoes and clothing were also sent for analysis, with more blood possibly found on the bottom of his right shoe.

“The attack happened in the bathroom,” Gerald said. While it was not clear how Peterson ended up in the tub, he said it appeared as if blood had been cleaned up in and around the sink.

“As soon as the officer opens the door and discovers the body, he (Faulkner) just turns around and puts his hands behind his back, with no direction from the officers,” Gerald said.

Faulkner said little as the allegations were laid out in a warrant request for the first-degree murder charge and afterward as he was arraigned before 37th District Court Judge Suzanne Faunce.

The hearing was attended by several members of the family, including Peterson and Faulkner’s 46-year-old son, Leslie Robinson. He said he last saw his mother in late October and that he spoke to her on New Year’s Day. He came back to metro Detroit from Atlanta, where he currently resides.

“My mom was the sweetest person, man. She would probably give you the shirt off her back,” Robinson said.

He said Peterson was the seventh of 12 children and that she attended church regularly, managed a children’s clothing store in Oak Park and visited her sister, who lives at the Lawrence Park Apartments across the street from Peterson’s apartment, where she was killed.

“I know it’s going to be hard for my aunt now, because if you come out of her driveway, you’re looking right at my mom’s kitchen windows,” Robinson said.

He said little about his father, but he and other family members were clear that Peterson and Faulkner weren’t together, despite the cohabitation, but that they’ve known each other since they were teenagers.

“She’s been telling him that she wanted him to move, that he had to go,” said Peterson’s niece, Sheila Dejerinett, 59, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Dejerinett said she’s been in town several times over the past year  — most recently, before this, around Christmas — and that Faulkner wasn’t in the picture.

“There is no relationship. We never saw him once,” Dejerinett said.

Peterson’s youngest sister, Virginia Rogers, 61, traveled back to Michigan from her home in Elba, Alabama, and was also in court on Jan. 13.

“I think he was surprised to see us,” Rogers said. “He didn’t look remorseful.”

Attorney James Conrad represented Faulkner for the arraignment only, pending the appointment of court-appointed defense counsel. He asked the judge to consider the fact that Faulkner turned himself in, but bail was denied.

During the arraignment, Gerald told Faunce that Faulkner had a manslaughter conviction in a Canadian court on his record from 1998. The case was adjudicated in Windsor, Ontario. Robinson, who said outside the courtroom that he notified Center Line investigators about the conviction, said the charge involved the death of Faulkner’s ex-girlfriend.  

Faulkner was ordered to appear for a probable cause conference at 8:45 a.m. Jan. 22 before 37th District Court Judge Matthew Sabaugh at the David W. Hanselman Municipal Complex on 10 Mile Road, west of Van Dyke Avenue, in Center Line. A preliminary examination was tentatively scheduled for the same time on Jan. 29, at the same location.

First-degree murder is punishable by mandatory life in prison.    

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