Real Name: Robert Xavier James
Location: Hesperia, California
Date: August 1, 1997
Details: Robert James was the two-year-old son of Travis and Wendy James and brother of six-year-old Surisa. The James family had just moved into a new apartment in Hesperia, California on August 1, 1997, when they had to make one more trip across town. That night, they were returning home and eager to put Surisa and Robert to bed. The traffic was heavy on Main Street and the car in front of them was moving slowly. As Travis tried to pull around it, a dark blue Chevrolet Camaro cut him off. He tried to change lanes again, but the Camaro refused to let him in. Eventually, he was able to get into the left lane behind it, but it refused to let him pass the car in the right lane. A game of cat-and-mouse began; when Travis tried to speed up, the Camaro would do so and then slow down. Its driver seemed to anticipate Travis' moves, blocking him at every turn.
Finally, Travis opted for an illegal shortcut: he swung into the left turn lane, hoping to pass the Camaro from there. As both cars sped up, a passenger in the Camaro stuck himself out the window and fired a gun thirteen times at the Jameses' car. Travis pulled off the side of the road; when he and Wendy looked back to check on Surisa and Robert, they realized that the latter was not moving. Wendy got out of the car and went back to check on him. She held him, but his head kept moving back and forth. She noticed that there was blood everywhere. Tragically, he had been killed instantly from a gunshot wound to the head while sitting in his car seat; his only protection was his teddy bear, which the bullet had passed through.
Police began an immediate investigation to find Robert's killer; unfortunately, road rage crimes are particularly difficult to solve. Since so many people are moving during the time that the crime is taking place, most do not even realize that it is happening. However, in this case, a witness was able to give police a description of the Camaro and its driver.
Suspects: The suspects were driving a dark blue Chevrolet Camaro with a light strip on the bottom and louvre windows on the back. The killer was a Caucasian or Hispanic male, in his late teens or early twenties with short dark hair. He wore a white T-shirt with some color on the front. He is depicted in the composite below.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 29, 1998 episode, along with another road rage case, the death of Richard Aderson.
Results: Solved. In August 1998, based on the description of the Camaro's driver, an anonymous tip, and some persistent detective work, authorities identified Robert's killer as twenty-six-year-old Alvie Utah Williams of Hesperia. He is an alleged neo-Nazi with an extensive criminal history. At the time, he was serving a prison sentence for an unrelated firearms violation. Authorities eventually located the driver and other passenger, and they agreed to testify against Williams in exchange for immunity.
In 2003, Williams was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, in 2005, his conviction was overturned due to alleged prosecutorial misconduct. This was due to a comment that the prosecutor had made about Williams's earlier courtroom behavior. In 2007, he was granted a second trial. However, in September 2009, he pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to eleven years in prison. Due to the amount of time, he had already served, he was released on parole.
- Robert James on Unsolved Archive
- Toddler killed in traffic dispute - August 2, 1997
- Gunman fires into Hesperia family's car, killing toddler - August 3, 1997
- Hunt Continues for 2 Men in Slaying of Boy - August 4, 1997
- More witnesses sought in drive-by shooting of child - August 4, 1997
- Shooting witnesses sought - August 5, 1997
- Parents, authorities appeal for help in finding killers of 2-year-old boy - August 9, 1997
- Family struggles with loss - August 10, 1997
- Father of slain boy plans for better life - August 16, 1997
- Sketch released of shooting suspect - August 19, 1997
- Man charged in toddler's death - August 18, 1998
- Committee overturns conviction in killing of 2-year-old - September 16, 2005