Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Coral Eugene Watts: The Sunday Morning Slasher

Troubled Childhood

When Coral returned to school in Inkster, he was held back one grade to make up what he missed. He had difficulty keeping up with the class and his grades began to slide. It wasn't clear whether his poor performance was due to brain damage or the chronic sleep problems he developed after his illness.

Coral began having violent dreams that disturbed his sleeping pattern. He was restless when he slept because he would spend the night trying to fight off the evil spirits of women. In fact, he was trying to kill them. Moore claimed that Coral's sleep-induced visions weren't nightmares because "he enjoyed them."

At age 15, Coral felt the urge to act out his dreams. One day he knocked on the apartment door of Joan Gave, 26, while delivering papers on his route. When Gave answered the door, the boy, who was unusually strong for his age, beat her up. He then continued his delivery route as if nothing happened.

After the incident, Gave immediately called police. The authorities apprehended Coral at his home. He was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment at the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit.

During a psychiatric evaluation, Coral talked about his dreams. Hewitt, Stewart and Cosgriff wrote that when he was asked if the dreams disturbed him, Coral replied, "No, I feel better after I have one." It was a surprising response that caused concern for Coral's mental well-being.

According the Dallas Observer, the psychiatrist later reported that Coral was an "impulsive individual who has a passive-aggressive orientation to life" and who is "struggling for control of strong homicidal impulses." He believed Coral was a danger to society.

He hoped that outpatient treatment would benefit the teenager. On his 16th birthday, Coral was released from the clinic. He went back to the clinic for psychiatric help approximately 9 times following his initial visit.

In the meantime, Coral returned to high school and even though his scholastic performance remained poor, he excelled in sports. Athletics was an acceptable means of releasing his pent-up aggression. He became a star football player and performed even better at boxing, earning the status of a Golden Gloves fighter.

With the help of his mother's tutoring, Coral graduated from high school at age 19. Despite his low grade point average, he won a football scholarship to Lane College in Jackson, Tenn. Moore stated that after several months at college, Coral suffered minor leg injuries. He decided to leave school and return home to his mother.

After one year of working as a mechanic for a Detroit wheel company, Coral enrolled at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Hewitt, Stewart and Cosgriff reported that, "it didn't take long before a rash of attacks began to plague the area around campus." Several would end in murder.


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