Walter James Mason, who was accused of killing a man in Clayton in 1980, has died, according to court records. He was 87.
A June 3 filing stated that the court was notified by State Hospital South of Mason’s death.
Mason’s death brings an end to a 41-year-old murder case that began when Mason reportedly shot and killed Daniel Woolley in Clayton. Mason fled Idaho after the shooting. He was arrested in October 2019 after law enforcement found him living in Texas. A neighbor of Mason’s in Rising Star, Texas, told the Post Register that Mason had lived there for 25 years as a recluse. He lived with a woman named Beverly Meacham who died a few months before Mason was arrested. Meacham’s daughter later did research on Mason, finding that he was wanted in Idaho for murder. She told the police, leading to his arrest.
The court document does not say how or when Mason died. Mason’s poor health had been a concern while he was in custody. After his 2019 arrest, Eastland County Sheriff’s Office deputies in Texas expressed concern about transporting such a frail person to Idaho. His neighbor described him as “a pretty feeble old man” and “in real poor health.”
Stanley resident Brett Woolley, Daniel Woolley’s son, wrote a message on June 2 in response to Mason’s death.
“After 39 years of running free the man who murdered my father died last night,” Woolley wrote. “I hope the devil has time for him. This has been a long chapter.”
Early in court proceedings, a psychologist determined Mason was mentally unfit to stand trial and was unlikely to become fit in the future. Due to his poor health, Mason never appeared in court.
The case against Mason is expected to be dismissed.