Woman arrested in retired Durham firefighter's 2012 beating death
Posted June 24
Durham, N.C. — A 41-year-old woman serving time in prison for a drug conviction last year was charged Tuesday in the death of a retired firefighter inside his Durham home nearly two years ago.
Crystal Brandi Fox was indicted Monday by a Durham County grand jury on first-degree murder charge in the July 9, 2012, slaying of Donald Kemp Watson. Watson, 74, was found dead in a spare bedroom at 4424 Regis Ave.
“Everyone has a big smile on their face today. My mother is beyond elated,” Watson’s stepson, Ricky Robinson, said Tuesday afternoon.
Robinson said he doesn’t know Fox, who currently is at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, where she has been since December serving a 19-month prison sentence for drug charges.
Court records show she has several convictions of common law robbery charges from 1991.
Investigators haven’t commented on a motive or said what led them to charge Fox, and it’s unclear if she knew Watson.
Family members say they suspect that Watson – who worked as a firefighter and fire captain for 33 years before retiring in 1992– might have been targeted because of his reputation for helping others out financially.
They believe robbery was a motive, and his brother, Wayne Watson, a former police officer, says he wouldn’t be surprised if investigators arrest someone else in the case.
“I did see how my brother was beaten,” Wayne Watson said. “It was one of the most brutal murders in all my years in police work. I never saw one any worse than the way his head was beat up. Some female didn’t do that.”
An autopsy determined Watson died of "homicidal blunt force trauma to the head," noting that he had multiple cuts to his scalp and face and a large skull fracture, among other injuries.
The autopsy report indicated that there were no signs of forced entry into Watson’s home, and there was a trail of blood from the door through the hallway into the bedroom.
The report also noted a heavy crystal candlestick found on the floor and a glass table near the bedroom that was partially shattered.
“I really feel like it’s going to surface. Someone who knew Donnie knew this woman (Fox), I think,” Wayne Watson said. “He kept his doors locked.”
Robinson said he and his family haven’t yet had a chance to talk to authorities yet, but that Tuesday’s arrest has brought some relief to the family.
"We've been living in limbo for the last two years, just suspended in grief. You can't move forward. Hopefully, this will allow us to move forward,” he said. “We are hopeful, but there is still the court system we need to work through.”