Local News

Friends, family seek answers in retired Durham firefighter's murder

Posted October 5, 2012

— Family and friends of a retired Durham firefighter found dead in his home July 9 will gather Friday for a fundraiser, hoping to collect money for a reward that can help investigators solve his murder.

Donald "Donnie" Watson, 74, was found dead and covered in blood in his home on Regis Avenue. Durham police have questioned a man in the case and found fingerprints inside the home, but they haven't made arrests. 

Investigators haven't said how Watson died. 

Friday's fundraiser – from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Post 7 on Trinity Avenue – will include chicken dinners, a silent auction of autographed sports memorabilia, car show and live music. Dinners will be sold for a minimum donation of $8 a plate. 

Kathy Johnson, a friend of Watson's who was helped organize Friday's fundraiser, said she wishes everyone in Durham could have known Watson. 

"He was pretty much a part of everything and everyone's lives," she said. "He's still with us. He was such a loving and giving person."

Wayne Watson said he thinks his brother's giving attitude may have been a factor in his death. He says it wasn't unusual for his brother to help others with their financial problems. 

"He was just a super person, hard-headed at times, but with a heart bigger than he was," Wayne Watson said. Fundraiser Fundraiser will add to reward in retired Durham firefighter's murder

Wayne Watson, who is a retired Durham police officer, said his brother died from multiple blunt-force injuries to the head.

"Of all the murders I went to (as a police officer), I never saw a more brutal murder than my brother's, and it hurts," he said.

A caller to 911 described the scene, saying Watson's face was covered in blood. But the caller was unsure whether Watson had been attacked or had simply collapsed and hit a bookcase, saying there was shattered glass on the floor near his body.

Anyone with information is asked to call 919-560-4440, ext. 29341 or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.


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  • Milkman Oct 5, 2012

    dsalter - Donnie did carry, but since he was at home it was possibly stowed already, I'm sure the police know what happened there, either it was still on his person, stolen or found somewhere else in the home. By all appearances he knew his killer. It seems they are closing in on the killer from what I've heard, but it's not a done deal yet. Very sad story, Donnie was a great man.

    I just returned from the benefit, plenty of people, great food, excellent cause.

  • Glock07 Oct 5, 2012

    Just picked up 5 plates. A really good crowd is there to raise money for this great cause. Glad to see it.

  • dryjr Oct 5, 2012

    Go by and get some chicken I just had some and it was very good.

  • dsalter Oct 5, 2012

    Still there are those out there who think it's wrong to have a handgun for self defense. Would it have helped? Maybe..maybe not. But, at least it's an equalizer and gives someone a chance. People will kill you for your money these days folks. Just in case you hadn't noticed.