A 21-year-old man fatally beat a mother and son who let him live in their rural Minnesota home, and the suspect offered no explanation to authorities other than to say his victims were “weird,” according to murder charges filed Thursday.
William L. Hillman, who has a history of mental illness and violence, was charged in Otter Tail County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Denise McFadzen, 42, and Dalton McFadzen, 21. Hillman appeared in court Thursday and remains jailed.
Another son alerted the Sheriff’s Office to the attacks, and a deputy and a Perham police officer found their bodies about 5:15 a.m. Tuesday in the home off a long gravel road in Gorman Township, roughly 8 miles north of Perham.
Court records in nearby Cass County show that Hillman was ruled mentally ill in June 2016, soon after he punched his mother and threatened to kill her. He was committed to the Minnesota Security Hospital at St. Peter for treatment. That commitment ended in November 2017.
A psychologist’s evaluation leading to the ruling concluded that Hillman was suffering from a “thought disorder” that hindered his ability to recognize reality. “He does pose a substantial likelihood of physical harm to others,” Dr. Charles Chmielewski wrote in his assessment.
According to the criminal complaint:
Denise McFadzen’s body was outside the entrance to the home, while her son’s body was in a bed. They had been beaten on the head with a large pipe wrench, which was found leaning on a wall and covered in blood, the document read.
Within moments of law enforcement learning of the killings, Hillman called 911 from a home down the road and said he had done a “bad thing” and should be arrested.
Under questioning and in bloodstained clothes, Hillman said he moved in with the McFadzens about six weeks earlier. The night before the killings, Hillman continued, he woke up in the middle of the night and doesn’t remember what happened next because everything went black.
An officer asked Hillman whether the McFadzens had ever threatened him, “and he said they had not,” the charges read. “He said they were just ‘weird.’ ”
He went on to say, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I did it.”
Hillman also disclosed that he had hit his mother about two years earlier in Cass County, where he lived at the time. He was charged with a felony, but that case was dismissed based on mental illness, leading to his commitment to St. Peter for schizophrenia.
He said he was on medication for his illness “but stopped taking it five months ago,” about the time his commitment ended.
An online fundraising page is seeking contributions to pay for the victims’ funeral services and burial.
“Two people’s lives were senselessly taken by another individual,” campaign organizer Krystle Schwartz wrote. “They were the kindest, caring, loving people you would meet. They were kind enough to let someone in their lives without knowing the end result.”
Schwartz said Denise McFadzen leaves behind a husband of 20 years and other children.