Amtrak knife attack linked to 'demons'

The man charged with stabbing four people on an Amtrak train in Niles Friday night, allegedly told police he thought he was battling demons.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, made his first court appearance today via closed circuit television from the jail.

Court documents filed in connection with the case indicate that Williams used a large hunting knife with a five inch blade.

According to court documents, Williams told police he could remember being on the train that day talking to a guy, when “the guy he was talking to on the train turned into a demon and he had to fight them.”

According to court documents, Williams said he did not remember exactly what he did, but that he “did have a knife in his hand.”

Williams appeared calm and collected during today’s court appearance as he talked about his employment in the trucking industry.

Williams told the judge he typically made between $700 and $800 a week.
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While the judge said that was usually too much to qualify for a public defender, Williams will receive free legal assistance—because his bond was set at $1 million.

Toward the end of today’s six minute court session, Williams asked the judge if he could be released on his own recognizance. The judge said no because the crimes alleged were very serious and that Williams was not a resident of Berrien County.

Court documents identify the victims in this case as 40 year old Dontrel Bankhead—the train conductor—who was stabbed twice in the head, twice in the neck, and several times in the body; 59 year old Bonnie Cleasby who was stabbed in the abdomen; 56 year old Dan Stewart who was stabbed once in the chest, and 47 year old Gail Vanhorst who was stabbed in the chest.

Williams faces four counts of assault with intent to murder.