Family has few answers a year after retired firefighter's slaying
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.Posted — Updated
"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.
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."
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.