Suspect arraigned in radio anchor's fatal Macomb County stabbing

A convicted felon with a 30-year criminal history was arraigned Monday in connection with the fatal stabbing late last week of WWJ-AM (950) anchor Jim Matthews and attacks on three other family members, but officials said the motive remained unclear.

Arthur Levan Williamson, 55, on Pontiac was charged with seven felony charges in New Baltimore's 42-2 District Court, including first-degree murder, felony murder, two counts of assault with intent to murder and three counts of unlawful imprisonment. He's being held without bond at Macomb County Jail.

Williamson is accused of fatally stabbing Matthews, 57, in an attack on Friday at a Chesterfield Township home that injured three others, including the radio anchor's 10-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter and the 35-year-old mother of the kids. A media advisory from Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido called it a "hammer attack."

Arthur Williamson

Macomb County Assistant Public Defender Adrian Cranford represented Williamson during the arraignment where the judge did not read off the charges and denied several attempts by Cranford to bring up the topic of bond. Cranford had no further comment after the arraignment.

Chesterfield Township Police Chief Brian Bassett said at a Monday afternoon press conference that police are still trying to figure out the relationship between Williamson and the victims. Matthews' older brother Joe Nicolai, who lives next door to Matthew, said Monday he thinks he's seen Williamson around a few times.

Lucido said there were no signs of breaking and entering and there is evidence to show the suspect was not an "unwanted guest."

Authorities are still trying to establish a timeline. Bassett said Williamson arrived sometime in the middle of the night and Matthews arrived home around 6 a.m. The timeline between then and noon when police were called is still unknown.

Police were called to the Hidden Harbor Condominiums at about noon Friday after a woman escaped the home with her 5-year-old daughter. The woman's son, 10, was found tied up in a closet with severe injuries from blunt force trauma. Matthews was found dead.

Matthews' girlfriend Nicole Guertin flagged down a bystander upon escaping the house with her daughter, Matthews' older brother Joe Nicolai said Monday. Matthews and Nicolai are neighbors and after the bystander called 911, Nicolai said his wife, Jennifer, came outside and held Guertin's hands in the parking lot.

"My wife called me at work. I'm a plumbing contractor and I just dropped everything," said Nicolai, who added that he and his brother shared the same last name but Matthews was a professional pseudonym.

The neighborhood was put on lockdown Friday as well as the school across the street where Matthews' children attend, Nicolai said.

Nicolai said he believes Guertin met Williamson at a support and recovery group and he thinks he's seen him around a few times. He said he's worried Guertin may have been manipulated.

"Nicole is very naïve, wouldn't hurt a fly, always means well," Nicolai said.

Joe Nicolai, 54, who lives next door to his brother Jim Matthews, said he thought he had seen Arthur Levan Williamson around the Hidden Harbor Condos a few times before the alleged attack.

Suspect's record

Though Nicolai doesn't have all the details of what happened, he said he knows one thing for certain. He knows what his 10-year-old nephew did when he saw his family being hurt and called him brave.

“I know (my nephew) was attacked brutally and tied up in the closet because he was trying to defend his father and his sister," Nicolai said. "Ten-year-old boy, not on his watch.”

The 10-year-old boy is in critical but stable condition, while the 5-year-old girl has been released from the hospital, Bassett said. The mother is in stable condition but is being held for observation, he said.

Williamson was found in the basement, where it appeared he had overdosed and attempted to commit suicide, according to authorities. Bassett said authorities treated him on the scene before he was transported to an area hospital.

Court records show Williamson, who was arraigned on his 55th birthday Monday, has a criminal history that dates back at least 30 years. Since 1993, Williamson has racked up convictions for assault, assault with intent to commit murder, kidnapping, illegal weapons possession, drugs and violations for assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

He was on parole on a breaking and entering conviction out of Clinton County until January, eight months before police say he stabbed Matthews. Williamson's arraignment came as Matthews' friends and co-workers are reeling from his death, calling him a devoted father and journalist.

Account for kids created

A GoFundMe account was created over the weekend to support Matthews' two kids. The GoFundMe, established by Ashley Quigley, the aunt of Matthews' two kids, had raised $13,000 by late Monday morning.

Donations will go toward getting her 5-year-old niece and 10-year-old nephew "everything they need," said Quigley, the sister of Matthews' wife: "My niece is doing well, but my nephew is in critical condition."

Quigley said her nephew underwent brain and ear surgeries. Both operations were successful, she said. She called her nephew's recovery "from a vicious, needless attack" the biggest challenge he has yet to face. She also said she and her husband are taking care of Matthews' daughter, 5.

"I wasn’t going to make a GoFundMe, but it was recommended," she wrote on the page, created Sunday. "Anything donated is going to these two kids. They have been through so much and I feel like the least I can do is create something that helps them adapt to what comes after this tragedy.

"Thank you to everyone who is giving us well wishes. It is amazing to see the community pull together for these two children," she wrote.

Nicolai said his nephew woke up briefly Monday and he's been in and out of consciousness, but it's good news so far. Nicolai said he plans on selling his brother's home to help pay for the care of the two children will require for the rest of their lives due to injuries and trauma.

“I lost my brother, but they lost their father," Nicolai said. "They need all the attention, and they need all the financial support.”

Jim Matthews

What others say about Matthews

Matthews had a lifelong love of radio, Nicolai said, often pretending to be a DJ when he was younger. Matthews would rope his older brother into the game to handle the technical side, connecting the wires in the game.

Former colleagues and classmates of Matthews, meanwhile, described him as a kind, humble man, driven by his love for his family. Roberta Jasina, a former WWJ morning anchor, worked with Matthews for seven years. His family came first, she said, then he was a dedicated newsman.

“I saw Jim every day, every weekday,” Jasina said. “The thing about Jim is in an ego-filled business Jim was not one of those people. He was sweet and he was humble. And he was so kind to everybody. He ... always talked about his children and how much he loved his children and would share pictures of his little girl and his little boy, and he just adored them.”

Chesterfield Township Police investigators at the scene of a reported stabbing at the Hidden Harbor condominiums off Jefferson Avenue and Hooker Road in Chesterfield Township on Friday, September, 23, 2022.

“He was just sweet," she added. "And there aren't very many people in the broadcasting world who are humble and sweet. He was.”

Matthews worked from midnight to 5 a.m., Jasina said: “He would go home for work and you can you imagine how tired he must have been after nights and then he would go home and stay up until he could take his kids to school.”

Michelle Goosen Anderson, who attended Lutheran High School East in Harper Woods with Matthews in the early 1980s, also remembered the news radio anchor fondly. “He was the kid that never said anything bad,” she said. “He just didn't do anything bad. We were normal kids. We’d tease each other. Jim wasn’t like that.”

Anderson recalls one time she was wearing a back brace and fell on the ice while walking into school her freshman year. She and her friends laughed as they struggled to help her up. After arriving at a class they shared, Matthews could sense that she was mortified by the situation and on the verge of tears, she said. He asked if she was OK.

“He said, ‘I just wanted to let you know I'm laughing with you, not at you.’” Anderson said. “That’s the first time I ever got what that meant … And I said, ‘We'll just keep this between us.’ My voice cracked. He said, ‘Don't do that. Don't do that' because he knew I was tearing up … I said ‘Yeah. I won’t.’ I said ‘Just keep it between us …’ He looked straight ahead and put his hands in a fist thumbs up. I felt like wow, he's got my back. You know, I'll never forget it. And those are one of the moments that you just don't forget as a kid, right?”

Anderson said she also remembers Matthews as a creative person. She said it didn’t surprise her that he ended up in radio. He was aware of current affairs even in high school, she said.

“He had such a great voice. He had such a great demeanor,” she said. “In today's world, we need that. You need someone who’s sincere. Someone who's going to tell the truth. Someone who's going to be like, ‘Hey, here's the facts.’"