Jason P. Wells, a tenant of the One Temple Square apartment complex in Fredonia, faces a charge of second-degree murder in the death of elderly resident Ruth Fisk.
Wells, 37, appeared before Justice David Prince in Fredonia Village Court Friday night. According to the charge leveled against him, Wells allegedly stabbed and beat Fisk sometime between Wednesday and Friday, when her body was found inside One Temple Square.
According to Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley, who arrived at the scene around 2 p.m., Fredonia Police were summoned by a manager to the apartments at approximately 12:18 p.m. after a worker discovered Fisk's body. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office and Forensic Investigation Team were also called in and Wells was taken into custody during the course of the investigation.
OBSERVER Photo by Tim Latshaw
Jason P. Wells is led into Fredonia Village Court Friday night, charged with the murder of an elderly resident of the apartment complex in which he lives.
Foley would not discuss any specific matters concerning the collection of evidence or circumstances surrounding the crime scene, including the observed searching of a dumpster outside the complex and removal of items within.
"We're in the process of putting this together," Foley said.
"In relative terms, we're still at an early stage, but we've made great grounds today. We were able to work together, we got a suspect and did what we needed to do."
One Temple Square supplies low-income housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities. Foley said he believed the incident was a situation of the victim knowing the assailant and residents should not fear additional attacks.
"Certainly it's a vulnerable population within this building, but I want to make sure that the public understands it seems to be an isolated incident," Foley said. "These two knew each other; it wasn't a situation where this person forced themselves into this apartment complex and then committed this act. That was not the nature of this."
Wells will be assigned a public defender after telling Justice Prince he could not afford a lawyer. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled for Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Wells was transported to Chautauqua County Jail with no bail.
Dennis Will, a tenant of One Temple Square, said he was familiar with both Fisk and Wells, saying the latter was someone "to stay away from."
"(It's) just the way he treated women," he said. "The way he talked to them, the way he called them names."
Fisk was a nurse and Buffalo native who lived much of her life in the area. She worked as an aide at Brooks Hospital from 1974-1978 before completing her nurses' training. Her husband, William R. Fisk, was a caretaker at the Dunkirk Conference Grounds. They had a daughter, 15-year-old Michele, who died in 1976 from injuries received in a pedestrian accident. According to Foley, family members had been notified of Ruth's death and an autopsy to determine official causes was scheduled to take place Saturday morning.
The incident marks the first known homicide in Chautauqua County this year. Three homicides were recorded in 2009 and eight were recorded in 2008.