Prayer vigil planned in slaying of retired firefighter

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 04:27 PM

Family and friends of a retired Durham city firefighter found dead in his home last summer are planning a prayer vigil next month to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

Dot Watson, the sister-in-law of 74-year-old homicide victim Donnie Watson, said the vigil will begin at 7 p.m. July 7 at the American Legion Post 7 at 406 E. Trinity Ave. The public is invited.

Watson, who operated a towing company, was found dead July 9 in his West Durham home at 4424 Regis Ave. He died of “homicidal blunt force trauma to the head,” according to the autopsy report. He was found dead in a bedroom by a coworker after he didn’t report to work.

No arrest has been made. Police said last week that the case remains “open and active.”

Investigators said they found a large pool of blood from an apparent struggle at Watson’s home.

They seized firearms, two bullet fragments and candlesticks while executing a search warrant at the home in August. Investigators also removed lighter fluid, a broken figurine, a bank bag, checkbook, false teeth and yellow hat.

Watson was well-known in the community, and operated Biggs & Watson Wrecker Service on Harvest Street in East Durham with his wife.

In October, friends held a chicken dinner fundraiser at The American Legion and raised nearly $20,000. A $14,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Watson’s death.

Wayne Watson, Donnie’s brother and a retired Durham police sergeant, said in an interview Tuesday that he’s disappointed and frustrated that no arrest has been made.

“I’m just unhappy with where we are in the investigation,” Watson said.

He said he learned recently that the former investigator has been taken off the case and a new detective assigned to it.

“I just don’t understand flipping from one investigator to another,” Watson said. “And no one [in the Police Department] has information we can pass to the public about his murder. I get calls every day from people saying: ‘Can you give me an update on Donnie’s murder?’

“It’s just been a sad thing.”