Carl Eugene Watts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Carl Eugene Watts
Carl Eugene Watts 2004.jpg
Watts' 2004 mugshot
Born(1953-11-07)November 7, 1953
DiedSeptember 21, 2007(2007-09-21) (aged 53)
Cause of deathProstate cancer
Other namesCoral
The Sunday Morning Slasher
Spouse(s)Valeria Goodwill (1979–1980)
Criminal penalty
  1. 60 years in prison
  2. Life imprisonment without parole
Victims14–suspected to be 100
Span of crimes
1974–May 23, 1982
CountryUnited States
Date apprehended
May 23, 1982

Carl Eugene Watts (November 7, 1953 – September 21, 2007), also known by his nickname Coral,[1] was an African-American serial killer dubbed "The Sunday Morning Slasher".[2] He died of prostate cancer while serving two sentences of life without parole in a Michigan prison for the murders of Helen Dutcher and Gloria Steele, although the number of his victims may have exceeded 80.

Watts claimed that around the age of 12 was when he started to fantasize about torturing and killing girls and young women. During adolescence, Watts began to stalk girls and is believed to have killed his first victim before the age of 15.[3]

On June 29, 1969, Watts was arrested for sexually assaulting 26-year-old Joan Gave. When Watts was tried, he was sentenced to the Lafayette Clinic, a mental hospital in Detroit. According to a psychiatric assessment, Watts was revealed to suffer from mild mental retardation, with a full scale I.Q. of 75,[4] and to have a delusional thought process, though a police officer interrogating Watts after his arrest later stated that he appeared to be "very, very intelligent" with an "excellent memory".[2] He was released from the Lafayette Clinic on November 9, 1969.

Personal life[edit]

Watts had one child, Nakisha Watts, with girlfriend Deloris Howard. He then married Valeria Goodwill in August 1979, divorcing in May 1980.


Watts's time as a serial killer began when he was 20 years old in 1974, by kidnapping his victims from their homes, torturing them, and then murdering them. On October 30, 1974, Watts tortured and brutally murdered 20-year-old Gloria Steele, who was believed to be his second victim. He may have also been involved in the disappearance of Nadine Jean O’Dell who was 16 years old when she disappeared on August 16th 1974, she was last seen walking down John Daly Street in Inkster, Michigan. Her body has never been found and no one witnessed her presumed abduction.[1]

Watts almost always killed young white women. Victims ranged between the ages of 14 and 44 using methods such as strangulation, stabbing, bludgeoning, and drowning. Watts murdered dozens of women between 1974 and 1982, and despite the many women he murdered, he was not discovered as a serial killer for almost eight years.[1]

There were several reasons for this. He attacked in several different jurisdictions and even different states. Even with the advent of DNA testing, it was still nearly impossible to connect them because he rarely performed sexual acts on his victims; his crimes were not thought to be sexually motivated. Watts was questioned for murder in 1975, but there was not enough evidence to convict him, although he had spent a year in prison for attacking a woman who survived.

Canadian authorities believe Watts may have crossed the border into Windsor that October, assaulting 20-year-old Sandra Dalpe outside her apartment, leaving her near death with multiple wounds to the face and throat. By that time, Watts had fallen under scrutiny from local homicide investigators. A task force was organized in July 1980 to probe the Sunday slashings, and Watts was placed under sporadic surveillance; a November court order permitted officers to plant a homing device in his car.[citation needed]

Watts was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.[5]

Arrest and discovery[edit]

On May 23, 1982, Watts broke into the apartment of Lori Lister and Melinda Augilar in Houston. As she arrived home from work, he choked Lister into unconsciousness under the stairs below the apartment. He then entered the apartment and began to choke Augilar as well. Augilar feigned unconsciousness while Watts tied her hands behind her back with a wire. He dragged Lister's body upstairs and into the bathroom and started filling the bathtub preparing to drown her. While Watts was preoccupied with Lister, Augilar was able to slip free and jump out a window to seek help. Lister was rescued and Watts was later arrested after fleeing the scene. While in custody, police began to link Watts with the recent murders of a number of women.

Until early 1981, he had lived in Michigan, where authorities suspected him of being responsible for the murders of at least ten women and girls. Watts was previously questioned about the murders in 1975, but there had not been enough evidence to convict him. At that time, Watts had spent a year in prison for attacking a woman, who survived.[citation needed]

Prosecutors in Texas did not feel they had enough evidence to convict Watts of murder, so in 1982 they arranged a plea bargain. If Watts gave full details and confessions to his crimes, they would give him immunity from the murder charges and he would, instead, face just a charge of burglary with intent to murder. This charge carried a 60-year sentence. He agreed with the deal and promptly confessed in detail to 12 murders in Texas. However, Michigan authorities refused to go in on the deal so the cases in that state remained open.[citation needed]

Watts later claimed that he had killed 40 women, and has also implied that there were more than 80 victims in total. He would not confess outright to having committed these murders, however, because he did not want to be seen as a "mass murderer". Police still consider Watts a suspect in 90 unsolved murders.[2]

Michigan trial[edit]

Watts was sentenced to the agreed 60 years. However, shortly after he began serving time, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that he had not been informed that the bathtub and water he attempted to drown Lori Lister in was considered a deadly weapon. The ruling reclassified him as a nonviolent felon, making him eligible for early release.

At the time, Texas law allowed nonviolent felons to have three days deducted from their sentences for every one day served as long as they were well behaved. Watts was a model prisoner, and had enough time deducted from his sentence that he could have been released as early as May 9, 2006. The law allowing early release was abolished after public outcry, but could not be applied retroactively according to the Texas Constitution.[6]

In 2004, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox went on national TV asking for anyone to come forward with information in order to try to convict Watts of murder to ensure he was not released. Joseph Foy of Westland, Michigan, came forward to say that he had seen a man fitting Watts' description murder Helen Dutcher, a 25-year-old woman who died after being stabbed twelve times in December 1, 1979. Foy identified Watts by his eyes, which he described as being "evil" and devoid of emotion. Although Watts had immunity from prosecution for the 12 killings he had admitted to in Texas, he had no immunity agreement in Michigan. Before his 2004 trial, law enforcement officials asked the trial judge to allow the Texas confessions into evidence, to which he agreed.[7]

Watts was promptly charged with the murder of Helen Dutcher. A Michigan jury convicted him on November 17, 2004, after hearing eyewitness testimony from Joseph Foy.[6]

On December 7, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Two days later, authorities in Michigan started making moves to try him for the murder of Western Michigan University student Gloria Steele, who was stabbed to death in 1974.[8]

Watts' trial for the Steele murder began in Kalamazoo, Michigan on July 25, 2007; closing arguments concluded July 26. The following day the jury returned a guilty verdict. Watts was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on September 13.[9] He was incarcerated at a maximum security prison in Ionia, Michigan. He died of prostate cancer on September 21, 2007 in a Jackson, Michigan hospital.[10]

The case is featured in episodes of Cold Case Files[11] and truTV series The Investigators.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Walter, Kristy; Christopher White. "Carl Eugene Watts" (PDF). Radford University Psychology Department. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 16, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2009. He acquired his nickname because his cousins had an accent and would draw out the letters in Carl's name until it sounded like Coral and Carl decided that he liked it and also started talking like that.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c "A Deal With the Devil?". 60 Minutes. October 14, 2004. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Serial Killers ISBN 0-7472-3731-X p. 375
  4. ^ "Serial Killers' IQs". Kid's IQ Test Center. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  5. ^ Random acts of murder
  6. ^ a b URL:
  7. ^ Kurth, Joel (November 9, 2004). "Confessed killer faces trial; The Inkster native is accused of murdering a woman in Ferndale in 1979; he could walk free in 2006". The Detroit News.
  8. ^ Kurth, Joel (December 9, 2004). "Watts faces new charge in Michigan; Convicted killer is slated to be arraigned today in Kalamazoo in 1974 stabbing death". The Detroit News.
  9. ^ "Coral Watts Sentenced". WWMT. September 13, 2007.
  10. ^ "Coral E. Watts, Imprisoned Serial Killer, Dies at 53". The New York Times. September 22, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  11. ^ "Cold Case Files: Episode 106". Crime & Investigation Network. Archived from the original on April 9, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  12. ^ "Investigators: Episodes". truTV. Archived from the original on June 1, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009.


External links[edit]