Dr. William Nelson shot and killed Catherine Tortorete before turning the handgun on himself and committing suicide, Glynn County Police announced Friday morning.
The announcement from Police Capt. Marissa Tindale came nearly two weeks after the bodies of Nelson and Tortorete were discovered on the evening of March 6 at Nelson’s medical clinic in Redfern Village on St. Simons Island. Police quickly identified their shooting deaths as a murder-suicide, but did not publicly identify the shooter until Friday.
“We’re satisfied that he did shoot and kill her first and then he shot himself,” Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said Friday morning.
Torterete, 51, had a brief romantic relationship with Nelson but had filed a restraining order against him on Jan. 25 in Glynn County Magistrate Court, court records show. Nelson, 65, had filed a restraining order against Tortorete on Feb. 6, according to court records.
However, both Tortorete and Nelson most likely met at his medical office at 284 Redfern Village over the weekend prior to March 6, which was a Monday, according to police. Glynn County Police investigators have determined that both Tortorete and Nelson were last seen on March 3, a Friday, Doering said. Police received a 911 call at about 5:45 p.m. on March 6 after someone came across a body at Nelson’s office.
Police say the murder and suicide took place sometime over that weekend.
“It did not happen on the day they were found,” Doering said. “They were last seen on the Friday before. They had been there for a day or two.”
Nelson used a handgun, police said, but would not identify the firearm further. Two guns were found at the scene, police said.
Nelson also lived at the offices of St. Simons Island Clinic, which is located in a cul-de-sac of medical and business offices off of the main loop of the Redfern Village shopping district. He kept two dogs at the office also. Neighboring businessmen reported seeing Nelson walking around outside his medical office from time to time with a handgun holstered to his hip. A border fence along the back entrance to Nelson’s office was posted “Beware of Dog” and “Private Property No Trespassing.”
Tortorete, who lived at 533 Brockington South on St. Simons Island, stated in her restraining order that the two had a romantic relationship from Dec. 31 to Jan. 24. Tortorete said Nelson “became possessive and obsessed,” according to the restraining order. She said he was “calling and tracking my every move.” At one point Tortorete said she “was fearful he would stab me in my sleep,” according to the order.
Tortorete stated Nelson was following her, particularly on Jan. 24 after she told him she wanted to spend time by herself. “Last night I said I wanted to be alone and he was waiting in his car when I arrived at my home,” she wrote in the warrant seeking the restraining order. Tortorete also stated in the warrant that she was having trouble retrieving personal items from Nelson’s home.
The restraining order Nelson filed against Tortorete on Feb. 6 is brief and partially illegible. It states that Tortorete was possibly harassing him about being “stood up.” It also mentioned that she was “Recently sending text messages of wrongful accusations.”
After discovering the bodies, police quickly ruled out the possibility someone else murdered the two, Doering said. Police determined early on that Nelson had killed Tortorete and himself, he said. Police waited until all issues of the case were clarified before making the information public on Friday, Doering said.
“The detectives worked hard on this from the start,” Doering said. “They were thorough and they wanted to be satisfied that we made the most informed decision that we could make. And that takes time. They were very attentive to details to make sure nothing was missed and that all possible issues were addressed.”