This month I will share stories on Black History Month – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. History isn’t always pretty and sometimes we sanitize that which makes us uncomfortable. Here I will share all facets of Black History and try to focus on people not necessarily in the history books.
The Bad – Carl Watts
Carl Eugene Watts, AKA “The Sunday Morning Slasher,” was born on Nov. 7, 1953 in Fort Hood, Texas. His mother was a teacher and his dad was in the Army. They divorced before Watts’ second birthday. Watts moved with his mother to Inkster, Michigan where his mother remarried in 1962 and had two daughters.
When he was about 12, Watts started fantasizing about killing girls and women. At 13, he got meningitis which held him back a year. He had trouble with schoolwork and was bullied. He was only reading at a third grade level by 16.
In his early teens, Watts began to stalk girls. He may have committed murder before 15. On June 29, 1969, he was arrested for sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman, a customer on his paper route. He told the police he felt like beating someone up. He was sent to the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit. There he was diagnosed to have mild mental retardation with an IQ of 75. He was released from the clinic in November just after his 16th birthday despite warnings from a doctor that Watts was “paranoid with strong homicidal impulses.”
In 1973, he graduated from high school with a football scholarship to Lane College. But he continued to stalk and assault women which led to his expulsion after just three months. Watts also was a suspect in an unsolved murder of a female student.
Later Watts returned to college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Again he was evaluated, this time at an outpatient facility, where he was said to still be a danger. But due to patient confidentiality laws, Western Michigan University was not alerted to the danger of Watts.
In 1974, Watts began his life as a serial killer. He killed Gloria Steele on Oct. 30, 1974 by stabbing her 33 times. Earlier in the month his attacked Lenore Knizacky who fought back and survived. He also attacked Diane Williams in November. Both women were able to identify Watts as their attacker. He was arrested on charges of assault and battery. It was then he confessed to attacking 15 women, but would not talk about the murder.
Once again, Watts was evaluated by doctors and once again was described as dangerous and likely to attack again. Watts pleaded no contest to the charges against him. After one year, in June 1976, he was out of jail and living with his mother.
From 1974-1982, Watts killed at least 13 women aged 14 to 44. He killed women in Michigan, Texas, and was suspected of at least one murder in Canada.
On May 23, 1982, Watts attacked Lori Lister and Melinda Aguilar in their Houston apartment. He tied them up and as he tried to drown Lori in the bathtub, Melinda escaped by jumping head first off of her balcony. Lori was saved by a neighbor and Watts was arrested. But get this. Texas prosecutors did not think they had enough evidence to convict Watts of murder so they gave him a plea bargain! All he had to do was give all the details and confess to the crimes and he would be charged with burglary with intent to murder, which carried a 60-year sentence. The state of Michigan refused to go along with the deal.
But wait, there’s more.
Watts was sentenced to 60 years, but the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that he was not informed that the bathtub and water he tried to drown Lori in was considered a deadly weapon. That made him a nonviolent felon. Back then, nonviolent felons could have three days deducted from their sentence for everyone one day served with good behavior. Since he was a model prisoner, Watts could have been released as early as May 9, 2006.
Michigan, however, had its act together. In 2004, the Michigan Attorney General went on television asking for help in convicting Watts of murder. Joseph Foy came forward claiming Watts murdered Helen Dutcher in 1979. Foy said he recognized Watts by his eyes because they were evil and devoid of emotion. Since Michigan did not accept the plea deal years earlier, Watts could be tried for the murders he committed in Michigan. On Nov. 17, 2004, Watts was convicted of the murder of Dutcher. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Two days after the sentencing hearing, authorities started working on trying him for the murder of Steele. He was found guilty and charged with life imprisonment without parole.
Watts died of prostate cancer on Sept. 21, 2007.
Carl Eugene Watts. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Eugene_Watts
Montaldo, Charles. (2015, December 10). Coral Eugene Watts – The Sunday Morning Slasher. about.com. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://crime.about.com/od/serial/p/watts.htm