Watts was serving a 60-year sentence in Texas but an appeals court ruling cut almost 35 years off his sentence and he was about to be released in 2006. A plea-bargain in Texas had given him the 60-years on burglary charges and immunity in 13 murders cases.
When the families of murder victims in Michigan found out that Watts was about to be paroled, they insisted authorities pursue charges against him. Watts has reportedly confessed to more than 80 murders.
A Michigan task force searched the files of more than 100 unsolved murders in the state in the 1970s in hopes of finding some evidence that would link Watts to the killings.
Their search turned up few new clues until Joseph Foy happened to see Michigan Attorney General discussing the case on a television program. Foy witnessed the stabbing of Helen Dutcher from his home and had reported it to police at the time, but no arrest was made.
Cold and Evil EyesIt was Foy's testimony that lead to Watts' conviction in the Helen Dutcher case. He told the jurors he would never forget Watts' cold and evil eyes on that fateful night.
"Our prayers have been answered," said Laurelie Jacobi, a relative of Dutcher told the Detroit News. "We finally got him. We finally got him. We can finally mourn."
As the jury in Helen Dutcher case was deliberating his fate, Kalamazoo County, Michigan authorities issued a warrant for Watts for the 1974 stabbing death of Gloria Steele, a Western University student.