Coral Eugene Watts, a serial killer of at least 14 women, was convicted in Pontiac, Mich., of a 1979 murder that will keep him locked up forever. The verdict ended what the Detroit News called “a 25-year nightmare of legal blunders and dumb luck” that some feared would lead to the confessed serial killer’s parole in 2006. Instead, the so-called Sunday Morning Slasher will spend his life in prison for stabbing Helen Dutcher 12 times in a Ferndale, Mich., alley 25 years ago.
Suspected of killing at least three Ann Arbor women and others, Watts was convicted of murder in the 1980s and sentenced to 60 years in prison. But good- time credits in prison cut his sentence in half, and his scheduled release date was April 2006. A loose-knit network of victims’ relatives that stretched from Massachusetts to California began publicizing the possibility that Watts could walk free. In 2002, Michigan mounted a task force to comb through more than 100 unsolved murders in the late 1970s in hopes of finding new evidence against Watts. Investigators found a witness whose testimony led to the conviction in the Dutcher murder.