William Joseph Meadows (b. 21 July 1950; d. 19 May 1992) was a soldier in the United States Army who served as a "tunnel rat" with the First Infantry alongside Harry Bosch in the Vietnam War. Bosch stated that Meadows was the only man he ever knew that wasn't afraid about going down into the tunnels. He worked in the tunnels until 1970, when he was assigned to a military police unit attached to the American embassy in Saigon where his commanding officer was Lt. John Rourke. He became acquainted with Art Franklin and Gene Delgado who were also military police. He became a drug user at this time and was involved in smuggling heroin to the U.S. He stayed with the military police until he was discharged in 1973, at which point he remained as a civilian advisor attached to the embassy, and did not leave until the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
When he returned to Southern California, he applied for a job with the Los Angeles Police Department, but was rejected when he failed the drug test. He then went to work for the Southern California Water District as a pipeline inspector, but was fired after four months for excessive tardiness and sick-outs. In 1978, he was arrested for the first time for possession of heroin, and given probation. In 1979, he was arrested for possession with intent to sell; he pled out to simple possession and was sentenced to 18 months at Wayside Honor Rancho Prison. He was released ten months later, and was arrested several times between then and 1981 for displaying fresh needle tracks.
In 1981, he was arrested for attempted robbery, and was sentenced to four years at Lompoc. He was released in 1983, but was arrested a few months later for a bank robbery, pleading guilty to the charge and receiving a sentence of five years at Lompoc. At that time he came to the attention of Rourke, who had become an FBI agent. In 1985, he was caught in an escape attempt, and was sentenced to an additional five years. He was transferred to Terminal Island, and was paroled in 1988 to a halfway house for Vietnam War veterans called Charlie Company. At that time, he went to work for a gold mining company in the Santa Clarita Valley. Ten months later, he moved into an apartment in Sepulveda, and in February of 1989, he completed parole. He quit his prior job, went by the alias Bill Fields, and claimed that he was working nights on a subway project, but this was a cover for his involvement in the tunnel break-in of WestLand National Bank.
He was arrested in Van Nuys, California by Officer Nuckles during the Summer of 1990, and used his call to contact Bosch, who was by that time a detective with the LAPD. Bosch persuaded Nuckles, also a former soldier, to get Meadows into a rehabilitation program, which he completed six weeks later.
In 1991 he got back together with Rourke, Delgado, and Franklin and participated in the WestLand National Bank break-in.
Meadows was murdered in his apartment on 19 May 1992, and his body was discarded in a pipe near the Hollywood Reservoir around four o'clock the next morning. Autopsy indicated that the cause of death was heroin overdose, but there was evidence that he was tortured just before his death. He also had a post-mortem broken finger. Due to these suspicious circumstances, his death was ruled a homicide and investigated by Bosch, who was by that time a Detective III with the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department.