Wakefield Residents React To Woodmansee's Voluntary Committal
The public reacts after Friday's announcement that child killer Michael Woodmansee applied to be committed at the state mental facility after his sentence ends on Sept. 1.
After the Foreman family and South Kingstown learned earlier this year that Michael Woodmansee, the infamous murderer of 5-year-old Jason Foreman, would be released from prison 12 years early on Sept. 1, they were frightened and disillusioned with the state's correctional institutions.
Since that announcement, Jason Foreman's family and supporters throughout the state have lobbied to keep Woodmansee locked up in a psychiatric facility and pressured legislators to strengthen laws that allow for the early release of violent sexual offenders.
During a press conference in Wakefield on Tuesday, John Foreman IV, the father of Jason Foreman, called Woodmansee's plea for voluntary committal to the state correctional institution in Cranston "a step in the right direction."
Around town on Wednesday afternoon, locals agreed Woodmansee's decision is the best for the safety of the community and himself.
"I think it’s good he will stay [incarcerated],” said Donny, 54, of Wakefield, who did not want to be identified by his last name because he said he is close with the Forman family.
After Jason Foreman disappeared in 1975, Donny said he searched along with many other young men in town throughout the Great Swamp and Saugatucket River areas near the Foreman home for weeks. At the time, he said, no one would have considered a local person to be involved in the young boy's disappearance.
But just seven years later, Woodmansee struck again, attempting to strangle the local paperboy. But when the teenage boy escaped Woodmansee's grip and ran home to his father, South Kingstown police began connecting the dots between the two cases and when confronted with the evidence, Woodmansee admitted to the murder and subsequent defiling of Jason Foreman's body.
"It's scary that someone like him, who clearly has an urge to hurt young people, would be allowed back into the community at all - let alone 12 years before his sentence is scheduled to end," said Christina Gutierrez, 23, of Snug Harbor, a nursing major at the University of Rhode Island. "He obviously has serious problems and needs to be institutionalized for the rest of his life."
Outraged at the original news of the release, Foreman vowed to kill Woodmansee in March, but Tuesday, he took back his threats.
"I don’t believe in killing someone," he said on Tuesday. "But I could not stand to see him on the streets.”
The state Office of the Attorney General is currently pursuing a separate case to hold Woodmansee at the mental health facility involuntarily. According to officials, Woodmansee would be evaluated biannually to determine whether he is a danger to himself or others. With a voluntary committment, Woodmansee can request for release and doctors can hold him for an additional six months if he is deemed unfit to reenter society.
"I'm glad he's made this decision to seek a voluntary committment," Gutierrez said. "It's the best place place for him, but I'm not sure it's a proper use of the American justice system to hold someone against their will after they have served their mandated sentence. On the other hand, though he couldn't control his impulses 35 years ago, so who's to say he can control them any better today after he's been locked away and restrained from any type of release for decades? Hopefully he realizes the danger he poses to society."