A UF adjunct professor was found
dead Friday in her Gainesville apartment, apparently beaten to death
with a baseball bat.
Her 18-year-old adopted son, Gainesville
High senior Tavares Eugene Williams, was arrested late Friday and
charged with the murder of Barbara Roth, a member of the Political
Science Department and a research analyst at The Center for Studies
in Humanities and Social Studies.
Roth, 51, lived at Covered
Bridge Apartments, 1810 NW 23rd Blvd., with Williams, also known as
“She didn’t show up for work and we were all concerned
about her,” said Diane Craig, Roth’s supervisor and a research
analyst at The Center.
Gainesville Police spokesman Keith
Kameg said Roth’s colleagues called the apartment manager, who then
called maintenance. When maintenance workers received no response
from inside the apartment, they proceeded to enter the home and
found Roth lying on the floor.
According to an arrest
report, Roth was dead on arrival and appeared to have trauma to her
head and side of her face.
Kameg said officers, detectives
and forensics units all responded to the call. Officers found that
Roth’s car was missing, which was “out of character.”
Williams arrived at the scene at about 5:15 p.m. Friday,
driving his mother’s car, claiming not to know anything about the
incident and appearing to be a victim.
“He told officers he
didn’t know what happened,” Kameg said.
statements to detectives Reginald Johnson and Joe Senn that they
found inconsistent with his story, Kameg said. After questioning,
Williams implicated himself at about 8 p.m., Kameg said.
According to an arrest report, after being charged with
murder and hearing his Miranda rights, Williams admitted to
detectives that he struck Roth in the head three times with a
Kameg said there was no clear-cut motive for
“I’m shocked. T.C. would be the last person in
the world I would ever dream of doing something like that,” said
neighbor Jim Fondren. “Nothing like that ever happens here. It’s
quiet, safe and secure.”
Some neighbors did report hearing
noises, but nothing that would warrant calling the police, Kameg
“I just think it’s a tragedy,” said neighbor and
friend Nancy Tigar, a clinical assistant professor in the UF College
of Nursing. “It’s a waste of two lives.”
Roth received her
doctoral degree from the Political Science Department in August. She
was an adjunct professor and taught American government while
conducting research for The Center under the direction of former UF
President John Lombardi.
David Hedge, the undergraduate
coordinator for the department, said Roth was putting together a
course on higher education policy.
“She took her work very
seriously,” he said.
Roth’s neighbors and colleagues said
that she and Williams had a very close relationship, and they did
almost everything together.
“They were very close,” said
Lynn Leverty, assistant director of the Askew Institute. “This is
what makes this thing so confusing.”
Albert Matheny, the
assistant dean for Student Affairs, said Williams’ parents had
abandoned him, then Roth took him in when she was employed as a
“He thrived with her,” he said. “He was a
really nice kid. It was the furthest thing from anyone’s imagination
in the department.”
Community members also had high opinions
“He was a good student and on track for
graduation,” Gainesville High principal Charles Hall
Hall said Williams was involved with many activities in
school, including chorus, ROTC and football.
“well liked and well respected by his peers,” Hall said.
“This is not something I would expect to hear from any of
our children. Everyone who knew him is surprised,” he said.
Bobby Humphries, assistant football coach at Gainesville
High, has been involved with the team since last
“I’ve been around T.C. since August, and from what I
saw he was a dedicated athlete,” Humphries said. “He was a good
Officers at the Alachua County Jail said Williams has
no criminal past and is not eligible for bond.