Homeless man arrested for stealing, crashing Chestnut Funeral Home hearse


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – William Calvin Stewart, 54, was arrested yesterday and charged with grand theft of a vehicle and criminal mischief after allegedly stealing a hearse from Chestnut Funeral Home, damaging a pillar at the funeral home, and then wrecking the hearse in a seven-vehicle crash on Sunday. He was then hospitalized and was booked into the jail on Monday.

A Gainesville Police Department (GPD) officer responded to the funeral home at about 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, where the caller told her that he had been taking photos of the funeral home’s vehicles for an advertisement. He said that while he was parking one of the vehicles, he heard a loud noise and ran to the front of the property, where he saw Stewart in one of the vehicles, described as a “flower hearse.” He said he banged on the window and told Stewart to get out of the vehicle, but Stewart drove away.

The caller told the officer that the loud noise was caused by Stewart backing the vehicle into a four-foot pillar, causing $8,000 in damages to the pillar and concrete. A GPD officer recognized a bicycle left at the funeral home as belonging to Stewart, and an alert was put out to look for him.

Stewart was located about an hour later at the corner of NW 8th Avenue and NW 34th Street, where he was involved in a seven-vehicle crash; the arrest affidavit reported that nobody was injured in the crash.

The first officer at the scene of the crash saw Stewart standing near the hearse and that he had the keys to the vehicle in his pocket. Stewart reportedly started talking about Chestnut Funeral Home, and when an officer asked him who was driving the vehicle, he reportedly pointed at himself, and he was immediately detained but was transported to a medical facility to be evaluated.

Post Miranda, after Stewart had been cleared by the medical facility, he reportedly said that the person who reported the theft is his father and that his dad allowed him to drive the vehicle; he admitted being involved in the crash.

Stewart, whose listed address is GRACE Marketplace, has been charged with grand theft of a vehicle and criminal mischief over $1,000; he was also cited for careless driving. He has 18 felony convictions (five violent) and 57 misdemeanor convictions (six violent). He has served nine state prison sentences, all for Alachua County offenses. His most recent release was in November 2022 after serving a little over two years on charges of burglary, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest. Judge Walter Green set bail at $15,000.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

  • We know he isn’t blind because he saw the lights leadership refuses to turn off…unless you’re late paying the GRU bill.

    Maybe he was only showing his driving skills for a potential job opportunity given the number of violent crimes being committed.

    Could have been auditioning for a bus driver.

    No background check required.

    Gainesville…where culture and crime crash.

  • $15,000 bond for his past arrest records along with putting many people in danger with his driving? Unbelievable!! I hope the funeral home has good insurance. I see some lawsuits from the people involved in the multiple crashes in their future.

  • He should run for the city commission. He’s the kinda guy our Mayor and associates love.

  • I wonder if this will change chestnuts views on market place and the homeless dam shame he didn’t knot some of her family around

  • Another grace market resident. The Chesmuts should be pleased with Grace providing him a nice place to rest his head. And with insurance the Chestnuts can get a new vehicle. Everyone wins in Wokeville.

  • I can not believe a person with all the records he has and the fact most of the felonies are violent, and he is walking among us! Once you get one felony your life is over. You might as well have an F branded on your forehead. This man does not care about anything probably because he has no chance to live a decent life. He has probably decided to just go ahead and have fun. What else can he do? Nothing. He needs to be evaluated for his mental health and if he is not impaired, then he needs to be locked up before he really hurts someone.

    • I know this guy and he has mental problems…that’s how the cops knew who he was by the bike he left behind.

  • Well well well. Seems like things have gone full circle in the local branch of DNC. Rodney Long’s homeless bail bonded customer shelter has come home to roost in Cynthia’s back yard. It would have been even better if the hearse tore down NE Blvd. in the Duckpond, where most of the 3% ruling party NGO donors and voters live. Instead, he almost ran into an elementary school miles away. Happy now? 🤡👹🤬

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