It was late one morning in December 1982 when a Baton Rouge housewife (Louisiana, USA) saw someone approaching her home in the city's Hundred Oaks neighborhood. She opened the door, unsure if it was a carpenter or plumber returning from their lunch break. The woman realized almost immediately that it was neither, but instead a man who had knocked on her door weeks earlier asking for directions. Suddenly the intruder overpowered her and ordered her upstairs, where he held her at knifepoint and raped her repeatedly, then stabbed her twice and escaped after the victim's friend walked in on the horrific scene.
The days and months that followed would have unexpected and irreversible consequences not only for the victim herself but also for Archie Charles Williams, who was exonerated just last week after spending almost four decades in prison for the brutal attack that occurred that morning — a crime Williams did not commit. His 1983 conviction — based almost solely on the victim's positive identification of him in a photo lineup — allowed the real rapist to spend the next several years continuing to terrorize women across Baton Rouge.
Police finally arrested Stephen Forbes (the culprit) in 1986 after finding him on the scene of another attempted rape in progress. He confessed to four additional rapes in the same area, some with distinct similarities to the Hundred Oaks attack where Archie was arrested but Archie was never freed. Recent developments in fingerprint technology matched Forbes’ finger print to finger print evidence collected at that scene for the first time in March 2019, resulting in Williams' exoneration and eventual release.
Archie Williams was incarcerated for 37years of his life on that trumped up charge of rape. He didn't commit the crime, yet he was made to pay for it with 37years of his adulthood. Four different testifiers said Archie was at home on the said day and could not have been on the crime scene. But the victim insisted it was he whom he saw.
One thing though, Archie was never broken. He did everything he could to remain positive even in the prison. See friend, whatever happens in life you MUST NEVER EVER get broken.
Last week, Archie auditioned before a 3,500 crowd at America’s Got Talent. It was an emotional night as he shared the story of his courage, resilience and ultimate triumph.
Williams was featured on the latest season of "America's Got Talent," and fans of the show got a sneak peek at his audition Friday through the show's social media accounts. The audition is the realization of a long-held dream for Williams, who said he watched the popular NBC talent show while incarcerated, with dreams of one day making it to the big stage. "I watched 'America's Got Talent' in prison, and I would visualize myself being there," he said. "I always desired to be on a stage like this, and now I'm here. Thank God. I know it's the chance of a lifetime." Williams says.
When he was asked "How did you survive it?" Archie said "Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison"
In the audition, Williams showcases his talent with a performance of Elton John's classic "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" that left the show's four judges — including the notoriously blunt Simon Cowell — and audience in a tearful awe. Cowell even shared the footage on Twitter a message mirroring the comments he left for Williams following his performance.
"Archie, I will never, ever listen to that song in the same way ever again after you sang that. It took on a whole new meaning for me," Cowell told Williams in his critique. "You're a very, very courageous person. By the way, you have a really good voice — you really, really do.
"This is an audition I will never forget for the whole of my life, Archie." Those were the words of Simon Cowell, show host.
That night all four judges on the show gave Archie the nod to go on to the finals of America's got talent.
Whatever your situation may be today please be encouraged. There is a bright light that is about to show on the horizon. Do know as you continue to hang in there that God is coming for you and it would change everything again for you. It would be a new beginning. And don’t forget, please encourage someone out there also.
Stay positive minded and have yourself a great year.