A man serving a 25-year sentence in Iowa for first-degree burglary was sentenced to 50 years in prison after confessing to a cold-case murder of a homeless man whose burned and beaten body was found near a bike path under a railroad bridge along the Des Moines River more than a decade ago.
William Rulli, 36, an inmate at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, was sentenced on Wednesday after admitting he killed Stanley Golinsky on Oct. 24, 2012, the Polk County Attorney in Iowa said in a news release.
Lt. Tim Peak, who led the investigation, spent months visiting camps along the rivers and interviewing dozens of people about Golinsky’s death, according to the news release.
“He was well-known and liked in the homeless community,” he said.
Rulli was also well-known for bullying people who were homeless.
“Everybody seemed to be afraid of him,” Peak said.
He questioned Rulli, but the case grew cold.
“I knew in my heart and my mind that Billy did this, but I didn’t have the physical evidence,” Peak said.
On Sept. 20, 2021, Rulli approached a corrections officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
He wanted to confess. The Golinsky killing had apparently weighed on him all these years. He was ready to get it off his chest. He told Peak he was coming up for parole and had nowhere to go.
Peak said he was convinced Rulli killed Golinsky when he told him graphic details about the crime, facts never revealed publicly and only known to Peak and two others in the police department.
“Less than five people know the facts as I know them,” said Peak in a video about the case in 2021. “And Billy Rulli explained those facts to me as only I know them and a couple other people in the department, which really solidified to me that Rulli is telling the truth here.”
He was charged with first-degree murder in October 2021 and will serve out his sentence for burglary and murder concurrently.
Peak is relieved that a case that started with questions about whether the death was a homicide or a suicide has been definitively closed.
“I’m really happy that we now know the truth,” he said. “And Stanley’s family all know the truth. His story, the vindication to him, has come to light and will forever be known that he didn’t simply die by his own hand or his own accord. There’s no question as to what happened to Stanley.”
At his sentencing, Rulli apologized, according to the Des Moines Register. Rulli said surviving family members didn’t want anything to do with him, and his home had been torn down, Peak said, according to the newspaper.
“I’d like to change and will do a lot better and work through the prison system and take classes or whatever I need to do to do better,” he said.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]