Suspect in Athens murder arrested after standoff in Decatur

William Joseph Studstill, 30, was taken from the home of his mother on South Candler Street by Decatur police after a standoff with police that lasted almost four hours Thursday morning.

Athens-Clarke County police began looking for Studstill early this morning after they found his wife, 33-year-old Stephanie Ann Studstill, dead from stab wounds in a Carriage Court home.

Hilda Sorrow, spokeswoman for the Athens-Clarke County police said William Studstill was taken to Grady Hospital to be treated for injuries that occurred before the standoff.

Decatur police and DeKalb County SWAT officers arrived at the home at 6:45 a.m. At least a dozen DeKalb County police cars and the mobile SWAT unit were on the scene outside the residence.

Sarah Austin, a student at Emory University, was met by police as she stepped out of her downstairs apartment of the home. The 25-year-old law student was renting a room at the house.

Austin, who spoke to the AJC from a nearby house, said she began renting a room at the house in June. She said her landlord mentioned that her son, whom Austin identified as Studstill, was "having a hard time" and that he might be coming to stay with them for a few days.

"I had no sense that anything like that was going on," Austin said.

Austin said when she told police she had no connection to their investigation; they placed her in a police car and then took her to Agnes Scott College's police station. She said she remained there for about three hours trying to contact friends and family, who by that time learned of the incident through news reports.

Meanwhile, Austin's wallet, keys, computer, cellphone and two cats are still in the house.

"I couldn't go to school, I couldn't go to work. They haven't let me back inside. It's been a rough morning," she said. "The cats are probably hiding somewhere."

All she wanted to do was see whether it was chilly enough for a jacket.

Police blocked streets as far as three blocks away in every direction from a two-story house near Agnes Scott College and Columbia Theological Seminary.

Carla Abuata, who lives next door to the house, told the AJC that she was in her kitchen making coffee around 7 a.m. when she saw two Decatur police officers in her driveway with guns drawn. Abuato said she looked out her door and saw more police and was told to go back inside the house.

A police officer later came to the door, Abuato said, and told her that there was a report that a man inside the house had killed someone in Athens and fled to the Candler Street house, where his mother lives, and was inside with a knife.

Winnona Park Elementary School is near the site, but the school was not on lockdown, said a spokeswoman for Decatur schools.

Studstill is expected to be held by Decatur police once he is released from Grady Hospital, said Sorrow. It is unclear when he will be turned over to Athens-Clarke County police.

Studstill is expected to be charged once the investigation is complete. What those charges will be has not yet been determined, said Sorrow.

Staff writer Rhonda Cook contributed to this story.

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