Investigation Discovery’s ‘Living a Nightmare’ is a series that chronicles tales of real people who lost someone near to them to crimes that can only be described as horrific and heartbreaking. It also details how, with every passing second, law enforcement officers work hard to get justice, all the while ensuring that the community does not forget the people who matter the most. So, of course, its episode ‘Deadly Message,’ exploring the tragic murder of Julian Williams, is no different. In a matter involving deception, disappearances, and catfishing, this case shook two Southern American states to their very core.
How Did Julian Williams Die?
Julian Williams of Augusta, Georgia, was a friendly person by all accounts. As a Laney High School graduate, he had made a good life for himself until his world turned upside down in the spring of 2017. The 23-year-old was last seen alive getting into a cab outside his apartment on the 700 block of Broad Street in Augusta on March 25. But he somehow wasn’t reported missing by his family until April 2. As soon as the local officers discovered this information, though, they tracked down the cab company and found that Julian’s destination was Beech Island, South Carolina.
Subsequently, the Richmond County and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office joined forces to investigate what truly happened to the Georgian native. After about a month of probes, they made two arrests, following which they were able to recover Julian’s body. He had been buried in a shallow grave behind an abandoned trailer on Spider Web Road, near his drop-off area. According to his autopsy report, he died from “severe head trauma related to being shot.” Julian had taken a total of three bullets to his head, and his time of death was placed around the date he disappeared.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time he had found himself in front of the barrel of a gun. In 2011, Julian was shot in the heart and had to undergo months of treatment to make a full recovery. “They gave him a 20% chance to live and God seen a way to bring him back,” his father, Markeith Williams, said. “Gave me five more years.” He also added that his son was a strong individual whom everybody loved, so he couldn’t understand why anybody would suddenly want to kill him in such a heinous way. But the investigators had already figured that much out on their own.
Who Killed Julian Williams?
Antonio Deaunte Simpkins and Steven Ray Jackson were the two men behind Julian Williams’ slaying. After receiving several tips and following numerous leads, the police were first able to link Antonio to the case after discovering that he and Julian had been dating the same woman, which the former couldn’t handle. Thus, he conspired with Steven to lure the 23-year-old over the state line, kidnap him, and then get rid of him for once and for all.
To lay the plan into action, Antonio began messaging Julian under the guise of another woman interested in a date with him. Therefore, when Julian left his home at around 2:00 a.m. on March 25, 2017, he was under the assumption that he would soon be meeting the person he might have an intimate future with. But when Julian arrived at Beech Island, South Carolina, Antonio was the one waiting for him with a gun in hand. According to court records, Steven helped his friend bury the body after the shooting.
They were both arrested on April 26, 2017, and while Antonio was charged with murder and kidnapping, Steven faced indictments related to abduction and neglect in reporting a crime. Antonio ultimately did face a trial for the charges against him after pleading not guilty. He was consequently convicted and sentenced accordingly. As per the latest available reports, the charges against him seem to be pending.