Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Coral Eugene Watts: The Sunday Morning Slasher

Danger on the Home Front

Michelle Maday, victim
Michelle Maday, victim

On Sunday, May 23, 1982, Michele Maday, 20, heard a knock at her Houston apartment door. When she opened it, a suspicious-looking man stood before her. Suddenly, the stranger attacked, beat and choked her into unconsciousness. While she lay on the floor, the man went to her bathroom, filled her tub with water, and then drowned her before running away.  

The stranger later said that he felt no emotions about taking the life of an innocent woman. His only fear was being caught.

Lori Lister, 21, left her boyfriend's home and drove back to her Houston apartment. She parked her car and walked towards the front door of her apartment building. She was probably not aware that she was being followed.

As Lori got out her key and approached the stairs to her apartment, a man with a red, hooded sweatshirt suddenly came up behind her and strangled her into semi-unconsciousness. According to Bill Hewitt, Bob Stewart, and Gabrielle Cosgriff's 2002 People Weekly article, at that moment Lori "prayed not for her life, but simply that her body would be recovered." She was certain she was going to die.

Lori told Bill O'Reilly in an August 2002 Fox News' interview that she managed to let out a small scream. The neighbors overheard the muffled cry and immediately called the police. In the meantime, the man pulled Lori up the stairs to her apartment where he confronted her roommate Melinda Aguilar, 18.

Bill O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly

The attacker threatened to slash Melinda's throat if she screamed. He then choked her until her body went limp. The man had no idea that she was just pretending to be unconscious.

He took some hangers and wrapped Melinda's hands behind her back and placed her on the bed. Then he wrapped Lori's hands and feet with hangers. Hewitt, Stewart and Cosgriff claimed the man was so ecstatic that he had control over the two women that he jumped up and down clapping his hands.

While Melinda was in the bedroom, the intruder went to the bathroom and filled the tub with water. Melinda waited for an opportune moment and then jumped off the bedroom's second-story balcony. She screamed for help, hoping that it wasn't too late to save her friend.

Moments later, police arrived. The intruder, who heard the sirens, tried to escape but police apprehended him in the apartment complex courtyard. The neighbor who initially alerted police ran to Lori's apartment and found her head submerged in the tub. Luckily, she just managed to escape death.

Investigators identified the attacker as Carl "Coral" Eugene Watts, 29, a Houston mechanic. When they asked him why he tried to kill the women, he told them that they had "evil eyes" and he wanted to "release their spirits." During further questioning, detectives were shocked to hear that Coral claimed responsibility for up to 80 murders.

Coral Eugene Watts, mugshot
Coral Eugene Watts, mugshot

Before he left for prison, Coral made a chilling statement. According to Joel Kurth in the Detroit News, Coral told investigators, "if they ever let me out, I'll kill again." They had no doubt he would keep his promise. Coral had long since lost control over his violent impulses and realized that he needed to kill to be happy.

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