INDIANAPOLIS -- A Marion County jury will be asked to decide this week whether a former bail bondsman is guilty of the gruesome murder of two Indianapolis teens on Christmas Eve 2015.
Kevin Watkins, 51, faces two counts of murder for the deaths of 16-year-old Satori Dionne Williams and 15-year-old Timmee Jackson.
Investigators looking into the boys’ disappearance were called by Williams’ mother, Amber Partlow, to Watkins’ home in the 5900 block of 23rd Street. There, police found a trail of blood leading around the west side of the house. Blood was also found on the back bumper and rear doors of Watkins’ SUV.
A search at Watkins’ business, Watkins Bail Bonds at 6001 Massachusetts Avenue, turned up bloody clothing and a BB gun believed to belong to Williams. Subsequent searches turned up a severed finger tip and brain matter – both believed to belong to the teens.
Watkins was arrested on Dec. 26, 2015, on suspicion of the boys’ murder. Police believed Watkins killed the teens because he suspected them of being involved in a burglary at his home.
Jackson’s body was found two months later near the intersection of 34th Street and Shadeland Avenue on Indy’s east side. Williams’ body wasn’t located until April 2016, when human remains found in northwest Shelby County were identified as the missing teen.
Defense attorney Jack Crawford, who isn't involved in the case, said Wakins' defense team has an enormous challenge ahead.
“It is a circumstantial case," Crawford said. "But the circumstantial evidence is so overwhelming. It’s a mountain of evidence against Mr. Watkins. In fact, I would characterize the evidence as a Mt. Everest of evidence. It’s more circumstantial evidence than I’ve seen in 40 years of this work and hundreds of murder cases. I’ve never seen so much circumstantial evidence against a criminal defendant.”
Watkins also faces charges of criminal confinement and impersonating a public servant in a separate case filed in January 2016. Watkins was scheduled to begin his trial for murder on Monday at 8:30 a.m. in Marion County Criminal Court 5.
A Grisly Trail
On Dec. 20, 2015 – four days before Jackson’s and Williams’ murders – police say Watkins approached a teenager at an apartment building in the 2100 block of North Arlington Avenue and flashed a badge. Watkins allegedly claimed to be a “Fed,” then handcuffed the teen and started questioning him about a break-in at his house.
The teen’s mom said she called police but told them to "never mind" because she saw Watkins wearing a badge so she thought that he was legitimate.
Watkins eventually released the teen. The boy’s mother told police Watkins returned a few days later to apologize – but said he was still trying to find out who broke into his house.
Watkins also allegedly told the teen there "would be a bloodbath at Christmas," and that "when they all duct taped and screaming for their mamas, they ain't going to be saying nothing."
Just a few days later, on Christmas morning, Amber Partlow began to worry when her son, Satori Dionne Williams, hadn't returned home. She told police she searched for him throughout her neighborhood, eventually ending up at a home on the 5900 block of 23rd Street, where she knew her son had been having problems with residents.
According to court documents, Kevin Watkins lived at the home and filed a burglary report Dec. 19. Watkins reportedly suspected Williams of the burglary.
Williams' family said they don't think he knew Watkins.
When she arrived at Watkins' home, Partlow said she saw a large amount of blood on the front step, as well as in the grass and on leaves in the yard. She then called police.
An IMPD officer arrived to find blood trailing around the west side of the house. Blood was also found on the back bumper of Watkins' SUV, as well as the rear doors. Watkins told police he didn't know anything about the blood.
The blood reportedly turned into two trails on the west side of the residence. One trail led behind the garage of a vacant property next door. The other went southeast toward a tree line, then met back up with the other trail and ended behind the same garage.
Police executed a search warrant and found even more items covered in blood: a plastic rake with "a large amount of what appeared to be blood in it;" and a yellow dash light along with a large wad of gray duct tape.
Police also found "pieces of what appeared to be brain matter" just off of the sidewalk in front of Watkins' house.
Watkins voluntarily went to IMPD's homicide office, but then asked for an attorney and declined to give a statement.
A further search of Watkins' vehicle turned up "blood in just about every passenger compartment of the vehicle," investigators said. Police also found an outfit matching one described by one of the victim's families saturated in blood. Police said pieces of bone and brain matter were found on the clothing. A fingertip apparently belonging to an "African-American human" was also found.
At the Watkins Bail Bonds business owned by Watkins at 6001 Massachusetts Avenue, police reportedly found bloody clothing and a handgun-shaped BB gun inside a dumpster.
Witnesses told police Williams had been carrying a crowbar and BB gun the time they saw him.
Surveillance video obtained by police reportedly captured Watkins' vehicle pulling into the rear of his business around 8:37 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The video shows Watkins hanging a black garment over the fence. A little while later, Watkins removes the garment and drives his vehicle to a nearby shopping center. Around 10:41 p.m., Watkins returned to his business.
Seconds later, police said the camera captured a white Ford Expedition pulling in behind Watkins' blue Chevrolet SUV. A driver steps out of the Ford and appears to shake hands with Watkins. They then separate to their individual vehicles. The second driver is eventually seen carrying something to his Ford, before driving off. Watkins follows shortly thereafter.
Surveillance video from around 3:45 a.m. Christmas morning showed Watkins taking bags from his SUV and putting them in the dumpster, along with a pair of pants. Watkins is shown carrying a shovel at one point, but no shovel was recovered.
Watkins was arrested on Dec. 26, 2015, on preliminary charges of murder. He was charged in January 2016 in connection to the incident on North Arlington Avenue. The teens’ bodies weren’t found until months later.
Letters from Jail
Since his arrest, Watkins has penned multiple letters to the judge presiding over his case.
In one letter, dated April 24, 2017, Watkins included a portion of the transcript of a witness’ deposition. Watkins has underlined passages of the transcript, and in some cases drawn eyes next to parts he wants the judge to note.
The letter outlines Watkins’ belief that the case against him was “manufactured” and that detectives had been “harassing” witnesses to testify against him.
In a letter received by the court on July 31, 2017, Watkins asks to be released from jail, saying he has PTSD and that his incarceration is exacerbating it.
The letter contains two mentions to “54:17” – apparently a reference to the Bible verse Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper / And every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.”
Just days letter, in a letter dated Aug. 4, 2017, Watkins again asks to be released so he can “get my family and I [sic] affairs in order?”
“Though I am in a very confused state of mind as well as dealing with daily pain, it is my family that is in constant agony at my long absence,” Watkins wrote. “This entire situation is a tragedy on a wide scale.”
Watkins argues that he is not a flight risk, and that his years as a bail bondsman and special deputy show his character.
Judge Grant Hawkins, who is presiding over the case, denied Watkins’ request for pretrial release on Feb. 16 – the same day a jury was selected in the case.
Watkins’ trial was scheduled to begin Monday in Criminal Court 5. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has informed the court it expects a week-long trial.