Hesperia Fugitive Now Linked to 3 Killings, Arson, Robbery

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The manhunt continued Wednesday for an “armed and dangerous” Hesperia man who is now believed to be linked to three killings in Hesperia, as well as a robbery and an arson in Apple Valley, authorities said.

Phillip Williamson, 37, has been linked to the Aug. 30 killing of a 35-year-old Victorville woman whose body was found in a car abandoned in the desert in Apple Valley, as well as the killings of a 37-year-old Hesperia woman and a 43-year-old Hesperia man who were found dead inside a Hesperia home on Sept. 3, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Phillip WIlliamson, 37, of Hesperia, pictured in a photo released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on Aug. 31, 2019.
Phillip WIlliamson, 37, of Hesperia, pictured in a photo released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 31, 2019.

“Williamson remains outstanding and is considered armed and dangerous,” sheriff’s officials said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to immediately call 911.”

The alleged one-man crime wave first caught the attention of investigators when he robbed a 76-year-old man of cash and a handgun a the victim’s Apple Valley home on Aug. 30, the sheriff’s department said in a written statement. He allegedly returned the the same home in the 20000 block of Wisconsin Street and set it on fire on Sept. 9.

While robbing the senior citizen, Williamson told the victim to look inside the Hyundai car he had been driving, saying that it contained a woman’s dead body,” according to the statement. “The victim believed there was a body partially hidden inside the vehicle.”

Williamson drove away. The Hyundai he was driving was found shortly before 11 p.m. on Aug. 30 in a vacant patch of desert along Wisconsin Street in Apple Valley.

The body of 35-year-old Brandi Jones of Hesperia was found inside, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. Detectives labeled the death a homicide, but have not indicated how she died. The car she was found in belonged to her.

A search of Williamson’s home in Hesperia revealed “evidence of a struggle,” investigators said at the time.

Jones and the robbery victim were known to Williamson prior to the crimes, officials said. Their specific relationships were not clear.

Sheriff’s investigators released Williamson’s photo and asked the public’s help in tracking him down on Aug. 31.

The violence continued Sept. 3, when officials discovered the bodies of 37-year-old Melissa Graetz and 43-year-old Jason Culberson, both of Hesperia, at inside a home in the 9000 block of C Avenue in Hesperia, according to officials.

“Investigators have determined that both were victims of homicide,” the sheriff’s department station said. The suspect believed to be responsible for their deaths has been identified as Phillip Williamson of Hesperia.”

Authorities did not release information regarding how Graetz and Culberson died.

Williamson is also suspected in a Sept. 9 fire that was set at the home of the Aug. 30 robbery victim, officials said.

“Bomb and Arson Investigators responded to the fire and determined it to be an Arson,” according to a sheriff’s statement. “Investigators believe Phillip Williamson may be connected to the arson.”

Detectives said they believe Williamson has changed his appearance in recent days and has shaved his head and facial hair.

Anyone with information was urged to contact San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Detective David Carpenter at 909-387-3589. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to We-Tip at 800-782-7463.


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