JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A convicted sex offender charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 48-year-old fiancee pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Duval County court.
Wilford Chason, 51, is accused of beating Jennifer Herbert to death inside the Bartram Park condo where the couple lived together.
He's being held without bond pending a pretrial hearing Nov. 28.
Police said Chason was arrested in Daytona Beach after he was released from a hospital where he was held under the Baker Act after he tried to kill himself.
Deputies said a call from OnStar informed dispatchers that the driver of an SUV had cut himself with a razor. On I-95 in Palm Coast, deputies caught up with the vehicle, which investigators say was traveling at 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.
Chason was taken to a hospital, where police in Daytona Beach said he confessed to killing a woman he identified as his wife and told them where her body could be found.
People who knew the couple said they were engaged, and News4Jax found no record of a marriage between them.
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 Herbert's body.
An incident report indicated Herbert had been beaten.
An arrest warrant for murder was issued and Chason was booked into the Volusia County jail.
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.