William Carl Styffe, who was accused of trying to rob Hancock Bank in Palm Coast and robbing a Sun Trust Bank in Ormond Beach on Aug. 30, then a Compass Bank in St. Johns County a few days later, died over the weekend subsequent to injuries he sustained during a suicide attempt at the Volusia County Branch Jail on Sept. 18.
He attempted suicide even though he was on suicide watch, and was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes. He did so with towels, even though inmates on suicide watch at the Volusia jail are not supposed to have towels, according to a Volusia County Sheriff’s report.
Styffe had been under hospice care when he died. The State Attorney’s office and a spokesman for Volusia County government, which oversees the county jail there, confirmed that he died over the weekend, but would not release the day of his death or the location. Styffe was under court supervision through the 7th Judicial District’s pre-trial services.
Styffe, a resident of Coconut Creek who had turned 33 on Sept. 21, had been apprehended by U.S. Marshals in Palm Beach County on September 9. He was briefly held at the Palm Beach County jail and attempted suicide there the morning of Sept. 14, according to the sheriff’s report. He was scheduled to be transported to the Volusia jail on Sept. 16. Instead, he was transferred there the same day he attempted suicide, on the 14th.
Styffe was placed in Cell Block 2A, a medical block for inmates on suicide watch. A guard was conducting a walk-through of the block at 7:08 p.m. on Sept. 18 when, according to the sheriff’s report, “he did not see Styffe immediately so he opened [the] hatch for food trays and saw Styffe laying on the ground.” The guard saw a towel wrapped around Styffe’s neck, the other end of the towel being “wedged into the cell door.” The guard said that Styffe had two towels “tied together and he was attempting to hang himself by putting the towel in the door and laying on the ground,” the report state.
A paramedics conducted CPR on Styffe until EVAC personnel arrived at the scene. Until then, Styffe was not breathing, according to the report, suggesting that Styffe had been non-responsive for a long period of time: the sheriff’s report does not include an actual timeline. Styffe began breathing when EVAC personnel attended to him, the report states. He was then evacuated to Halifax hospital.
He never recovered, Dave Byron, a spokesman for Volusia County government, said. “This was one of those situations where he was in really bad shape,” Byron said, stressing that he did not die from the suicide attempt since, according to Byron, the attempt at the jail was “not successful.” By Byron acknowledged: “I don’t believe he ever recovered.”
County officials may be at pains to stress that the suicide attempt was not the cause of death for liability reasons: that Styffe at least successfully attempted to take his life—and became unresponsive at least for a period of time–even though he was on suicide watch may raise questions about the jail’s suicide watch system.
Styffe’s original bond had been set at $300,000. The attempted robbery charge in Flagler County was dropped on Oct 25, according to a spokesperson for the State Attorney’s office. That day, in St. Johns, Styffe was released on his own recognizance to pre-trial services in an order that nullified the bond, and required pre-trial services to “notify the state in the event that [Styffe] is released from any hospital, rehabilitation center or any other care center.” If he had recovered enough to be discharged, he would have been placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring, according to the court order signed by Judge J. Michael Traynor.
He never recovered.
I look at his picture and just ask “why”?
Random Citizen says
God have mercy on his soul. Welcome him into your loving arms of Grace, Lord.
Very sad to say the least. One more victim of this disastrous economic times, probably. God Almighty comfort Bill.
The Truth says
I know what this man did was wrong, but I can’t help but wonder what he was going through in his life to feel that robbing a bank was the only way out. Based on the picture that was posted, it sure seems as though this man had better times in his life. May God bless him and his family during this very difficult time. He was far too young to leave this earth.
I grew up in Natick, MA with Bill. He was a troubled guy, but he had a huge heart. This story makes me so sad from beginning to end. Billy, I hope you find peace on the other side.
Best friend says
This is a devastating tragedy. Another non violent person, with an addiction problem bullied and blackmailed by a corrupted Florida legal system to the point where he was cornered and helpless. God help his poor family.
I wouldn’t say Bill was a “troubled” guy. He had a loving family, was a hard working kid, and would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need. He struggled with addiction but even this crime was unarmed and non-violent. I saw Bill push a kid down when he was 8 years old for throwing a frog. Bill was a good man who loved life. It goes to say, we treat people with addiction like criminals instead of patients. My guess he was desperately trying to gather bond money so he could run from a ridiculous mandatory minimum sentence for buying drugs. He was scared. It’s tragedy, he deserved treatment not death.
To bad the CO’S didn’t do their job. Bill was a good person with a drug problem he didn’t deserve to die like this. I hope the jail is held responsible for the lack of work they do!!!
This is a shame. The AG is starting to change the way we issue minimum mandatory sentences to non violent crimes. People get backed into a corner, pushed into becoming informants and loose the battle. So so sad.
Clearly the legal system in Florida failed this young man and his family. It’s truly a tragedy and something needs to change in this state because he should have gotten help rather than death. So sad and I hope his death is not in vain…
A person that knows says
I know this story. Bill was entrapped by the police in Coral Springs in Broward County, Florida to make a buy of Oxycodone from another criminal that they had arrested and used as an informant.
This was a girl that Bill met through mutual friends. The day before he was to make the buy, they had her text him and further enticed him to purchase a better deal which placed him above the 25 year mandatory sentencing. He went for it and got busted.
They then wanted him to be an informant and find someone to bust. He agreed to help them bust the clinics and doctors’ that are giving this stuff to the kids. They said no you need to find someone.
He didn’t know anyone. He could not do 25 years in a Florida State prison, so he decided to take his life, and because his sister placed her house up for bond, he decided to rob a couple of banks and send her the money to pay off her lien on her house.
The US Marshalls picked him up before he could get the money to her and kill himself overdosing on drugs as he had planned.
The state of Florida killed Bill and everyone should know it. This is a sad, sad, event and my heart goes out to his family. Shame on the mandatory laws, the police and the DA for pressuring him into killing himself under the influence of depression coming off drug use, and shame on the Volusia County Jail for not watching him more closely after he attempted suicide at the first jail days before in Palm Beach County jail.
Rational Drug Laws says
Drug sentencing laws need to flexible enough to consider each individuals situation. Repeat non-violent offenders need treatment (with strict conditions) that allow the eventual return of the individual to productive participation in society. It is simply more humane, and is a lot cheaper than a militarized police force and extended prison sentences in overcrowded prisons. Versions of this are proven to work better in in more enlightened states and other countries.
Billy would still be alive today if he had not been coerced by law enforcement into a difficult situation and then facing a mandatory minimum sentence.
I am not a Florida resident – But I hope their rational citizens shout louder than the fringe hard liners and convince their representatives to bring some rational thought to the system in Florida.
Billy will be missed.
Rational Drug Laws says
Read more about rational incarceration strategies:
No Name Given says
Our society which treats drug addiction as a crime instead of a disease is to blame for this tragedy.
Fed Up says
We will never get drugs off the streets by targetting the users and small time dealers. This is a war and wars are won by cutting supply lines, destroying factories, and wiping out leaders; not by capturing a few soldiers. We need to take this battle to the source.
RIP Bill I love you, you will never be forgotten.