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Report: Palm Beach detective failed to thoroughly investigate Wade Wilson case

Wilson was accused of sexual battery against his then-girlfriend
Posted at 4:55 PM, Jul 05, 2024

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Fox 4 Senior Reporter Kaitlin Knapp has obtained an internal affairs report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, which says the detective investigating an alleged battery by Wade Wilson, failed to look into the case thoroughly.

On February 18, 2019, Kelly Matthews said her then-boyfriend, Wade Wilson, attacked and sexually assaulted her.

"He choked me two or three times," she said. "I started to black out, I was freaking out."

Matthews says Wilson also sexually assaulted her that same night. She reported it hours later and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office started its investigation.

34 days after reporting that crime, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Louis Potter closed the case and said in his report, "there are no witnesses to the alleged crime and no evidence to establish probable cause."

"In my case, they didn't really do anything," Matthews said.

In the report obtained by Fox 4, it says Matthews filed a complaint for employee misconduct on Sept. 5, 2022 after seeing Wilson was going to trial for murder in Cape Coral.

Investigators with the Internal Affairs division of the department interviewed Potter on Nov. 2, 2022. Potter told the sergeant the claims from Matthews seemed credible, but then said she had repeated contact with Wilson, which he said affected her credibility.

Potter did agree that the statement from Matthews did corroborate her physical injuries, evidence in the car and a sexual assault kit DNA.

The investigator asked Potter why he didn't file charges or go to the State Attorney's Office. He said in the report, "based on the totality of the circumstances, he did not have enough probable cause" and said there were conflicting statements.

In the report, Potter referenced a "copycat" case in Tallahassee, which alleged Wilson committed a similar crime when he hit a victim and tied her up. Fox 4 has reached out to the Leon County Sheriff's Office for that report.

When Potter interviewed Wilson during the investigation, he told the IA investigator that there was no evidence Wilson was innocent or there was consensual intercourse. Wilson told the detective, in the original report, that they were in a relationship and the detective could expect him to find his DNA on her.

The report says when Potter was asked again why he didn't file charges, he said he could not determine how Matthews got her injuries, adding it could have been self-inflicted, but he "absolutely did not know."

Photos of Matthews' injuries include a busted lip, bite marks on her chin, bruising on her neck and lacerations on her wrists, which is what is shown in the report and a a sexual assault report given to Fox 4 by Matthews.

Potter told the investigator the statutory requirement for dating violence is at least six months in order to file this charge, the report says. However, the sergeant corrected him and said the relationship must have existed "within the past six months."

The report says Potter also didn't document concerns in his report or give a Special Victims Unit supervisor a completed Forensic Biology Report or fill out a supplemental report. In a monthly log, the report says Potter stated he "exceptionally cleared" the case.

Following Potter deeming the case closed, the report says he generated a new report of stalking against Matthews. However, the report says Wilson only claimed stalking when he was accused of sexual battery."

Towards the end of the interview with Potter, he said if he would conduct a similar investigation in the future, he would do nothing different, according to the report.

Despite Potter's claims the sheriff's office found in March 2023 that, “All elements of the crime were met and D/S Potter failed to effect an arrest or file for an arrest warrant for the crime of battery."

It went on to say Potter was not diligent in the application of state statute and ensuring [Matthews'] allegations were fully investigated."

Potter was suspended for 120 hours and given an LCA, which stands for Last Chance Agreement. Law enforcement sources tell Fox 4 this is similar to a performance plan.

Eight months after the alleged sexual battery, Wilson killed Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz.

Fox 4 has asked the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office several times for a statement about the investigation, but have not received one. Potter has been with the sheriff's office for 22 years and was with SVU for a little more than two years. He was sent back to road patrol in June 2019, but it's not known if this is a result of the investigation.

Knapp asked the State Attorney's Office for the 15th Judicial District if they plan to file charges against Wilson or if this possible due to the statute of limitations. The spokesperson said they will work on the request on Monday due to the office being closed for the holiday.