ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA. | An investigation has shown that an island physician was the gunman in a March 6 suicide in which his former girlfriend died, police said.


Police answering a March 6 call to William Nelson’s office at 284 Redfern Village found both the 63-year-old Nelson and Catherine Tortorete, 51, dead inside.

Glynn County Police Capt. Matt Doering said shortly thereafter that the causes of death were murder-suicide from gunshots but he declined to say who fired the shots.

“Subsequent investigation substantiates that Dr. William Nelson murdered Catherine Tortorete and then committed suicide,” Capt. Marissa Tindale said in a release Friday.

The pair apparently had a troubled relationship according to documents from Glynn County Magistrate Court.

Both had filed applications for good behavior warrants to compel the other to stay away from them but neither made it before a magistrate for a hearing.

In her application, Tortorete said she and Nelson had been dating since the end of December and that he had become obsessed and possessive. She also said she feared he would kill her in her sleep and that he had stolen her keys and her dog. She withdrew the application before a hearing.

Nelson filed his own application later asserting that Tortorete had broken into his office.

He lived at the office and owners of neighboring businesses described his odd behavior and said he often walked around the parking lot wearing a sidearm.

Tortorete also lives on the island but worked at a drug store on the mainland.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405