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Family has few answers a year after retired firefighter's slaying

Posted July 7, 2013

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— Nearly a year to the day that 74-year-old retired firefighter Donald Kemp Watson was found dead in his Durham home, family members and friends gathered Sunday evening for a vigil to not only honor his memory but to help generate leads in the unsolved case.

"We want the people (who did this) in jail," his brother, Wayne Watson said. "Every day since he was murdered, people ask us, 'Have you heard anything on Donnie's murder?'"

The answer, he says, is no.

Durham police have released little information about Donald Watson's July 9, 2012, death but say it is still an active investigation.

According to an autopsy report, Donald Watson died of blunt force trauma to the head and had multiple cuts to his scalp and face, among other injuries.

There were no signs of forced entry into his home, at 4424 Regis Ave., but police did find a trail of blood from the door to a spare bedroom where Donald Watson was found, according to a search warrant. They also found a heavy crystal candlestick on the floor and a partially shattered glass table.

Investigators also found the fingerprints of an unnamed man on the door frame of the bedroom and a T-shirt with a blood stain in the man's vehicle, according to the warrant.

Police, however, won't comment on the man or say whether he is a suspect in the case.

Donald Watson Slain Durham man remembered at vigil

With few answers, family members and friends have struggled for the past year with the question of why anyone would hurt Donald Watson.

"I wake up in the middle of the night, like it's so fresh," said his wife of 35 years, Margaret Watson. "There's no words to describe it. It's such a troubled thing to happen to somebody like that who had so much good in him."

For 33 years, Donald Watson was a firefighter and captain for the Durham Fire Department. In 1992, he retired and started a towing company. For the last 10 years of his life, family members say, he was a sponsor of a major stock car driver.

Those who knew him say he was also a generous man with a big heart, and they fear that he might have been targeted because he often carried large amounts of cash.

Family members say they hope a large cash reward – they've raised more than $14,000 over the past year – will help motivate anyone with information about the case to go to police.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the police department at 919-560-4440, extension 29341, or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.

"All my siblings passed away. We put them to rest. They were with the Lord," Wayne Watson said. "But Donnie – I don't think we'll ever get over that, because he was so brutally beaten, and I just hope, one day, they'll put the people in jail that did it."


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  • thepeopleschamp Jul 9, 2013

    "I'd look and see who bought a new vehicle in the days right after this. If he had alot of money on him, the culprit would have to do something with it." JAT

    What episode of CSI was that on? Imagine doing backgrounds and investigating where everyone with a new car got their money from. And that is following your assumption that murderers only buy new cars, not used.

  • JAT Jul 8, 2013

    Well, the first reports said they had a suspect in mind so maybe they're just waiting for that person to trip up.

  • stymieindurham Jul 8, 2013

    "The law will find who did this sooner or later"

    A case this old, I seriously doubt it. Not unless it falls in their lap. These type cases get passed around too much.

  • stymieindurham Jul 8, 2013

    One question I would like answered is, how many different investigator's has the case been passed through?. I would almost bet you the original investigator is no longer on this case. It's just the Durham P/D way!!!

  • ifcdirector Jul 8, 2013


  • ohmygosh Jul 8, 2013

    I sympathize with them. However, it sound like they are really after revenge. Answers to everyone will rarely come.
    Needing "closure" is also often talked about. One really only achieves closure until the pine box is closed and placed 6' under. Until then one has to cope with less.

  • JAT Jul 8, 2013

    Can you tell from a fingerprint whether its from a man or a woman? And are they saying that the culprit put the bloody tshirt in the truck? That doesn't seem right. I'd look and see who bought a new vehicle in the days right after this. If he had alot of money on him, the culprit would have to do something with it.

  • Hugh Jass Jul 8, 2013

    The law will find who did this sooner or later