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Child killer agrees to remain behind bars

May 29, 2011

The Phillipe Pinel building at Eleanor Slater Hospital, where Michael Woodmansee will be incarcerated after he's released from prison, Sept. 1.

CRANSTON – After months of speculation and public outrage at the news of convicted child killer Michael Woodmansee’s early release from prison, Woodmansee has agreed to remain locked up after he’s released from prison Sept. 1.

At a press conference at the ACI last Friday, the state Department of Corrections announced that Michael Woodmansee agreed to voluntarily commit himself to a locked ward at the state mental institution at Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston.

On Thursday, Woodmansee signed in a waiver that he understood that “two psychiatrists who recently evaluated me found me to be a candidate for civil commitment” and that “I have decided to seek voluntary commitment.”

Woodmansee was convicted of second degree murder in 1982 after killing five year old Jason Foreman seven years earlier and keeping his shellacked bones in his bedroom. Woodmansee served 28 years of a 40 year prison sentence, but due to time accrued through good time behavior, it was announced this March that the child killer would be released 12 years earlier this summer, sparking public outrage and sending local legislators scrambling to find some way to keep Woodmansee behind bars.

“The prospect of his release has led to anger and anxiety on the part of the public, feelings that we absolutely understand. We are, of course, duty-bound to follow the law,” Director of the DOC, A.T. Wall stated at the press conference.

News of the child killer’s early release spurred public outcry and protests across the state and led Jason Foreman’s father, John to say that he would kill Woodmansee himself for killing and cannibalizing his son. Though it would not affect Woodmansee, local legislators recently passed a bill that would prevent violent offenders like Woodmansee from receiving good time credits and getting released early. To forestall his release, legislators also passed a 30-day moratorium on Woodmansee’s release to give state officials more time to conduct psychiatric evaluations and find some way to keep him out of the community. Woodmansee’s release was postponed further after prison officials knocked off 20 days of good time for flushing a razor blade down a toilet.

Although the Foreman family would rather Woodmansee never be released from prison, the family lawyer, Erik Wallin did state they were relieved by news of his voluntary commitment. “The Foreman family is still obviously upset Michael Woodmansee is being released 12 years early because of the good time statue. Despite that, they are relieved to some degree that Woodmansee won’t be released directly into the community,” Wallin said.

To detail more of what they are feeling, the Foreman family will hold a press conference Tuesday at noon at 238 Robinson Street.

South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia, one of the remaining police officers who worked on the case when Woodmansee was originally arrested in 1982 stated that he was comfortable with the decision of Woodmansee’s voluntary commitment.

“When we first learned that Michael Woodmansee had accrued good time and there was a possibility of him getting out early, I felt there was never an indication that he wanted to be released and that if he would be released he wouldn’t want to return to this community. I thought he’d be institutionalized and preferred to be remained locked up,” Vespia said.

For more coverage, see Wednesday's Narragansett Times.

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