Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Coral Eugene Watts: The Sunday Morning Slasher

Random Acts of Murder

On October 25, 1974, Lenore Knizacky, 23, heard someone at her door. Whitley claimed when Lenore answered it, a young black man stood before her asking for someone named Charles. Before she knew it, the man was strangling her. Lenore was able to fight off the man until he fled the apartment. Lenore called police, yet they were unable to apprehend the attacker.

Gloria Steele, victim
Gloria Steele, victim

On October 30, Gloria Steele, 19 also received a knock on her apartment door in Kalamazoo. It was a man also looking for someone named Charles. When Steele let in the stranger, he attacked her with a knife. She was stabbed 33 times.  

According to Whitley, the same man looking for Charles tried to attack another woman at her apartment on November 12. She luckily managed to fend him off. As the man sped away from the scene, the woman was able to catch a glimpse of his license plate. She informed police who learned that the car belonged to Coral Eugene Watts.

Coral was arrested that December for assault and battery after the two surviving women identified him in a police line-up. During questioning, Coral confessed to attacking at least a dozen more women, yet he never admitted to the murder of Gloria Steele. He was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation at Kalamazoo State Hospital before his court hearing.

Psychiatrists found that Coral lacked remorse for his actions and was impulsive, reckless and emotionally detached. However, they did not think he suffered from any kind of psychosis and believed that he was able to distinguish right from wrong. They eventually diagnosed him with anti-social personality disorder.

During Coral's stay at the mental hospital, he slipped into a temporary depression. He attempted suicide by hanging himself with a cord. Yet, he ended up with only minor injuries.

In the summer of 1975, Coral was officially evaluated again. Psychiatrists found that he suffered from depression and posed a danger to himself and others. However, despite his behavioral problems, he was found fit enough to stand trial for the assaults.

He was eventually sentenced to one year in jail. Unfortunately, he never stood trial for Steele's murder because prosecutors lacked strong enough evidence to convict him. He was released in the summer of 1976, eager to resume his deadly campaign against women.

Moore wrote that upon Coral's release, he found work as a mechanic and moved home with his mother. Many believed that he was a "mama's boy" because he didn't like being away from her for long periods. She was perhaps the only one person who understood him.

 

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