Investigation Discovery’s ‘Calls From The Inside: Connections to Murder’ narrates how the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office was able to arrest the convicted killer, Sam Williams, in connection to the murder of Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub that had occurred in Toledo, Ohio, on January 30, 2011. If you’re interested in discovering more about Sam and his alleged co-conspirator, Cameo Pettaway, here’s what we know.
Who Are Sam Williams and Cameo Pettaway?
Samuel “Sam” Todd Williams had slept in late on September 22, 2011, and invited friends over to his place to play video games. A chain smoker, Sam had run out of cigarettes and accompanied his brother to the store to buy a pack. As he crossed the street, marked police cars approached, with US Marshals and the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office deputies drawing their weapons. They arrested Sam and brought him down to the police station.
According to news reports, Sam had quite a long rap sheet with three domestic violence charges. He was convicted of threatening his victim in 2006 and was charged with felonious assault in 2007 after punching a man during a fight. He was recently convicted of breaking into his former wife’s residence and threatening to have her beaten up. So, when he was arrested, Sam alleged he was confused and even inquired the officers about the arrest.
He said, “I had a warrant for one of my domestic violence cases that I was on probation for. I’m like, ‘I’ve got 30 days in jail. I don’t want to do the probation. As the U.S. Marshal was putting handcuffs on me, I said, ‘You really come and get people for misdemeanor domestic violence cases?'” During his interrogation, he complained to the officer present about the alleged rough treatment meted out to him. He stated, “If you would have sent me something in the mail, I would have come down. You didn’t have to humiliate me like that.”
After the officers told him about the double murder of Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub that had occurred in Toledo, Ohio, on January 30, 2011, Sam began to grasp the gravity of the situation. When the detectives asked why his DNA was found on a cigarette butt retrieved from the crime scene, he decided to lawyer up. He later said, “I have been incarcerated before, and I know murder cases is a very serious crime (sic). I didn’t know if they were using (DNA) as a scare tactic to get me to talk. But I knew if I talked to my attorney, I’d find out more accurate information.”
While in jail, Sam made several calls recorded by the police and later presented in his trial. His most incriminating call was on April 12, 2012, when he called Stephen Pettaway. He was the brother of Cameo Pettaway, and the police had also found Cameo’s DNA on the same cigarette bud. While Sam claimed he was talking with Stephen on unrelated issues, the authorities used snippets of the call and the DNA to also arrest and charge Cameo in the double homicide.
Where Are Sam Williams and Cameo Pettaway?
Sam went to trial on July 2012 after being charged with two counts of aggravated murder with specifications, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary. Apart from the DNA evidence, the most crucial aspect of the prosecution was a jailhouse snitch named Eric Yingling, who testified Sam had confessed to him about the murders. Eric said, “I couldn’t get Williams to shut up. He was pouring it out. It was like I was a priest, and he was in a confessional.”
However, Sam claimed he was not present at the crime scene and had no hands in the murders. Upon his arrest, he could not immediately recall where he was on the night of January 30, 2011. He said, “I didn’t really know where I was. How much time had elapsed? Eight months? I lived in the streets, so really I’d bounce from this house to that house. At that moment, I couldn’t tell where I was.” However, he claimed he was watching the Pro Bowl with some acquaintances at the Bottom Line Bar on Navarre Avenue on the East Side.
Sam also claimed Eric was “a master manipulator,” alleging the latter received money and a plea deal for testifying against him. He claimed he was set up, and the cigarette butt containing his DNA was placed at the scene. According to Sam, the alleged perpetrator knew the police would arrest him as soon as possible because of his past convictions.
The court did not buy Sam’s story, and he was found guilty and sentenced to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole for the two murder convictions and ten years each on the remaining counts in August 2012. In a separate but simultaneous trial, all the charges against Cameo were dismissed because the court did not find enough evidence to warrant the charges. It was also ruled that Cameo would not be charged again for the crime because of double jeopardy.
According to official court records, Sam, now in his mid-30s, continues serving his sentence at the Marion Correctional Institution. Cameo served six years in prison after being convicted of beating up his girlfriend within two months of his acquittal. He was also charged with felonious assault for shooting an individual in January 2020, to which he pleaded not guilty. He is presumed to be in some prison awaiting trial or out after posting the $75,000 bond.
Read More: Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?