Police arrested a man believed to be responsible for the Nov. 6 death of Toni McElvy, a woman who lived in Southeast Gainesville.

William Matthew Ford, a 51-year-old Alachua resident, was arrested on charges of first-degree homicide, tampering and destroying evidence, a hit and run and driving with a suspended license. 

Ford appeared in court Thursday with William Miller, public defender. The court decided to hold him at the Alachua County Jail without a bond after a male witness identified him. 

McElvy was strangled in a bathtub Nov. 6 on the 100 block of SE 25th Terrace, according to an arrest report. Four days later, Officers who were responding to a death investigation, found McElvy’s body naked in her bathroom with bite marks on her nose and across the left side of her body. 

When police questioned Ford, he told police McElvy attacked him with a knife and he strangled her out of self-defense, according to the report. Prior to this, he changed his story three times after police confronted him with evidence. 

He initially told police someone else killed McElvy while he was at a hotel, according to the report. He told police he was attacked by two men at a store, then said he was attacked by two men at her apartment. 

He told police the bite marks were from sexual intercourse the day before the murder but also said he may have bitten her during a fight on the night of her murder, according to the report. Ford admitted to GPD officers that he wiped down McElvy’s phone and threw it in a ditch and took the knife with him when he left her apartment.

Family and friends told police they last heard from McElvy the evening she died, according to an arrest report. Police found the car Ford was driving was his mother’s car, according to the report. Family and friends said McElvy’s new boyfriend drove the same car. 

A witness told police that she heard Ford and McElvy arrive at the apartment the night of Nov. 6, according to a report. The witness told police she later heard Ford hitting McElvy and saying “I went too far.” 

Another witness told police she heard McElvy and Ford talk about a “jealousy issue” on the phone the day of the murder, according to the report.

After police found Ford’s mother’s 2000 Nissan Maxima, officers took him into custody for an unrelated warrant, according to the arrest report. Police noticed Ford had injuries consistent with a fight. 

Ford has a history of domestic violence and felony battery convictions, according to court documents. There have been 13 felony adjudications, or charges that Ford was found guilty of, and 19 misdemeanor charges. Eight of the charges were violent. 

He was sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 for battery and was released in 2015 before serving another year for the same charge in 2016, according to Florida Department of Corrections records. Prior to these sentences, he was incarcerated three other times for charges ranging from aggravated battery with a deadly weapon to drug possession. 

Contact Asta at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @astahemenway.

Staff Writer

Asta Hemenway is a journalism junior at UF and is the crime reporter at The Alligator. In her free time she enjoys watching Netflix, calling or texting friends and watching TikTok.