Serial killer Coral Eugene Watts confessed to murdering eleven women in Texas and is a suspect in dozens of other murders and attempted murders in several US states and Ontario. Thanks to a putrid excuse of a prosecution -- Texas let him plead guilty to burglary -- he was up for mandatory parole in 2006.
Michigan decided to try to go after Watts to keep the women of America and Canada safe. But it was a challenge to find proof. Since he did not rape his victims, the biological evidence that usually puts his type behind bars is lacking. And he did not have a habit of leaving living witnesses behind.
Then a witness stepped forward to tell his story.
It was December 1, 1979, in Ferndale (suburban Detroit). Helen Dutcher had her last meal in Alfie's Diner. Outside the place, she was attacked -- chased into an alley -- stabbed and killed.
Joseph Foy (photo above) witnessed the murder from his back porch, and as the scene unfolded, from various windows in his house. In doing so, he became another victim of Coral Watts. And the only person who could keep him behind bars.
The police developed a very good likeness of the killer based on Foy's description, but it's all they had to go on. The case went cold. But Foy saw Coral Watts on TV in 1982 when he was prosecuted in Texas, and he recognized Watts.
It took two decades for authorities to follow up on Foy's eyewitness account. It was the critical evidence they needed to prosecute the man who killed Helen Dutcher. They got a conviction; Watts is now locked up for life.
Clews had a chance to ask Mr. Foy a few questions and he kindly obliged. Here is our Q&A.
What you did see on that night long ago?
I've told this story so many times and the horror and coldness of it never changes. The swelling of the eyes and the lump in the throat start immediately. I can still recount every move once I got up from the couch and first seen his car in the alley till the time I see him back down the alley as he left her lying there dying.
I still remember as if he was looking at me this very moment, the absolute coldness and evil in his eyes as he locked eyes with me as he made his way around the front of his car with the knife still in his hand. I'll never forget how my life changed that very instant when I saw her drop to the ground after his slashing motion.
Time's clock went into slow motion at that very second to where the next minute or so seemed like forever, to where my senses were so keen that I focused totally on the scene and what was taking place. I will never forget the cold, evil, so "matter of factly" way he took Helen's life. It was just so routine, like I was quoted "like he was dropping off his laundry".
I could not in typed or spoken words ever truly convey the pure horror, coldness or sadness that took place that night. But from that moment I was changed and for that I will have a special hatred for him till the day I die.
What is it like to be the one of the only living witnesses to a serial killer?
Hell, in only the way that binds the three of us, Helen, Watts and me. I still cannot shake how I seen her spend her last seconds on this earth...in pure terror. I will never shake his evil cold eyes. I will never shake being a witness to all the evil he imposed on all the victims' families, all the sadness I was, I guess "blessed" to hear as the families trusted me to open up to as they poured out all the pain they had suffered for so many years at the hands of Watts.
I still cannot go a hour without thinking about the whole damn thing. I can't stop the way he invades my dreams turning them into nightmares that upsets my world for days. It has and always will consume my life and I don't have a fucking choice in the matter.
My wife and others tell me to "drop it" or "just don't think about it" but the only way for that to happen is for me to die and I won't let that happen until the Lord decides it's time, so until then, I deal. But if I could go back and change one small item and that would of been to stop him that night because if I would of so many countless innocent sweet women would still be alive today and that cross sometimes is unbearable.
Have you ever talked to him?
I don't think I'm on his "visiters list". But I do send him random letters reminding him of what a piece of shit he is and how he needs to step up and do the "right thing" by opening up his dark soul and telling of all the numerous others. I also send him a anniversery card every year on the date we got a murder conviction. So you see this is quite personal between him and I, we both share a very special bond that I never asked for, so he now has me in his life till he rots in hell, because he will be in mine till I am gone.
What about his family? Sorrow is how I feel for them. I can't imagine what they went through but they still stood up for him all throughout the trial by calling me a "liar" and "how can he remember" something that happened 25 years ago. After that my feeling for them is "fuck you".
Do you think there are more victims out there that we don't know about? Or do you think Watts is lying about how many women he killed?
I think when Watts was asked "How many have you killed Coral?" Then he said "that there wasn't enough fingers and toes in this room for as many as I've killed" and there were 5 people total in the room. Yeah it was exaggerated but by too few.
Here was an animal that went stalking for innocent women and was known to kill mutiple times a day. I don't think that was a fluke but more of the norm. So yes, his count could reach into the hundreds. When I saw how callously he killed Helen back in 79, he was well on his way to being a killing machine. Then all the murders in A2 [Ann Arbor], the Detroit murders, the Windsor murders, let's not bar Toldeo by any stretch of the imagination, when he fled Michigan he drove to his Aunt's I believe in Kentucky(?) then to Texas and you can't tell me he sat on his hands all that time.
So I'm sure they have a whole line of unsolved crimes from Michigan to Kentucky to Texas that has Watts' name written all over them.
Then you have the ones he confessed to in Texas. The key word is "CONFESSED" and granted immunity to. He won't say shit about any murder unless he gets a full "get out of jail free" card to do it. So they have a pile of cases in Houston that he wouldn't talk about. So, No, I don't think he's lying.
Someone told me he has cancer?
Yes, Colon or Prostate. That's what slowed his extradition here, they wanted to finish treatment in Texas and make sure they could take over treatment here. The things we do for our killers. I say let it eat him till he screams for the end to come and God makes him wait a minute longer.
The only speck of happiness was during the trial I knew as I looked at him he was sitting there in a diaper (friend of mine was a sherrif).
Well it'll be interesting to see what happens in Kalamazoo with him. I think that it doesn't have enough to convict and in a way it makes the state look hokey by trying too hard with so little. But for the sake of Gloria [Steele]'s family I hope they get a conviction so they can finally get the rest they deserve.
I would walk through hell again a hundred times over to make sure he was convicted just to ease their pain and sorrow in some small way that they so deeply deserve.
Yesterday, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear Watts' challenge to his Michigan conviction, as was first reported by the Detroit Free Press. As Mr. Foy put it, the ruling "seals the coffin tight on the son of a bitch." Thanks to Joseph Foy, a serial killer is finally behind bars for good.
For more on Watts, see the book penned by Corey Mitchell -- Evil Eyes. See also -- Coral Watts - Back in the Dock (about his upcoming trial in Kalamazoo).