Local News

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

Posted October 5, 2012 7:41 a.m. EDT
Updated October 5, 2012 10:39 a.m. EDT

— 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.

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.