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Sex offender charged with murder tried to kill self on I-95, deputies say

Jacksonville detectives find woman's body inside Bartram Park condominium

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A convicted sex offender charged with murder in the death of a 48-year-old woman tried to kill himself and was hospitalized after an OnStar operator disabled the SUV he was driving, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Police said Wilford Chason, 51, was arrested in Daytona Beach after he was released from a hospital where he was held Monday on a Baker Act. Police said he had notified his car's OnStar system that he had a medical emergency while driving.

On Tuesday, Flagler County deputies revealed that a call from OnStar informed dispatchers that the driver had cut himself with a razor. On I-95 in Palm Coast, deputies caught up with the vehicle, which investigators say was driving approximately 90 mph.

A deputy did not pursue the driver, identified as Chason, and told an OnStar operator to slow the vehicle down, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said. The SUV pulled into a weigh station and came to a halt after running over a stop stick.

Investigators said Chason had self-inflicted lacerations to his arms, neck and other parts of his body. A deputy found a gold engagement ring on the ground next to the driver's side of the SUV. The ring, which had blood on the band, was taken into evidence.

He was taken to a hospital, where police in Daytona Beach said he confessed to killing his wife and where her body could be found.

Jacksonville officers sent to the Twinleaf condominiums off Bartram Park Road -- the address listed for Chason on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sex offender registry -- found the body of Jennifer Herbert.

An arrest warrant for murder was issued and Chason was booked into the Volusia County jail.

Two crime scene vans were still outside the condo inside the gated community on Tuesday. Police have not said how Herbert was killed, saying that would be determined in an autopsy still being conducted.

Chason was convicted in Duval County in 1999 of robbery attempted kidnapping, lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under age 16. He has been on the sex offender registry since his release in 2011, when he listed his address as Sorel Street in Middleburg. According to the FDLE, he has lived in Bartram Park since 2016.

Mug shots of Wilford Chason from Florida Department of Corrections, FDLE, Volusia County

Jamie Williams said she lived next door to the couple until a year ago. She was shocked to learn about Herbert's death.

"I feel so sorry for Jennifer (Herbert)," Williams said. "She’s still very young, and she didn't deserve this"

Williams said Chason went by the name Joe. She said in the past, he helped with household chores.

"He had been at my place a couple of times and helped me change the batteries in the smoke alarms," Williams said. "I just can't believe it."

Chason was transferred to Jacksonville and booked into the Duval County Jail on Tuesday afternoon. Investigators said he did not share a motive after confessing to the murder.

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.