Arizona Fire Capt. David Watson Charged In 3 Cold-Case Murders

05/01/2015 09:03 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2015
Pima County Jail

An Arizona fire captain has been charged with killing his ex-wife, her mother and a friend more than a decade ago.

David Watson, of Pima County, Arizona, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder on April 25. His arrest followed a 15-year investigation into the disappearance and death of his ex-wife, Linda Watson, according to The Washington Post. He also was accused of shooting to death Watson's mother, Marilyn Cox, and her friend in 2003.

Watson, 46, is a 20-year veteran of the Tucson Fire Department. He was promoted to captain in 2007 and is reportedly on unpaid leave while he awaits trial.

Investigators were unable to connect the killings until 2011. Linda Watson was reported missing in 2000, amid a custody battle with Watson over their only child. Her body was discovered in 2003 in the Arizona desert west of Tucson, along with the bodies of unidentified immigrants, the Post reported. It took eight years for authorities to identify Linda Watson's corpse.

Cox searched tirelessly and pleaded on local radio for her missing daughter's safe return until 2003.

On May 7, 2003, Cox was found dead.

Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Tracy Suitt released few details of why it took so long to arrest Watson, who was always the department's lead suspect. He told The Huffington Post that a big factor was waiting for Linda Watson's body to be identified.

"Those remains were located in an area where migrants were passing through a desert on a journey to the states," Suitt said. Coroners "get to identifying bodies as quickly as they can, but it takes a while."

He added: "We always had a feeling [Watson] might have done this, but having a feeling and proving a murder are two very different things."

Cox's family began to suspect Watson had something to do with Linda Watson's disappearance after Cox, 63, and her next-door neighbor, Renee Farnsworth, 53, were gunned down. At the time, Cox was involved in a custody battle with Watson over her granddaughter, according to The New York Daily News.

"We're happy that we were able to come to a conclusion and arrest Mr. Watson in the death of his ex-wife, her mother, and her friend," Suitt said. "Anyone who does something like that is dangerous."

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