Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Law enforcement share a new discovery in a nearly 12-year-old cold case, and investigators hope the public can now help crack that case. Medical examiners confirmed through DNA testing they had Linda Watson’s remains, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
Watson was 35 when she disappeared in Pima County in August 2000. Law enforcement told KGUN9 News they treated the case as a homicide.
Watson, a mother, was in a custody dispute with her ex-husband. Early on, sheriff's detectives said they were keeping a close eye on Watson's ex-husband and ex-boyfriend.
“They’re just too strong of a potential investigative lead in this because that’s who we look for,” Sgt. Michael O’Connor told KGUN9 in 2002. “Most people who are murdered are murdered by someone they know and, in this case, these people knew her very well.”
Neither of the two--or anyone else--was charged, however.
Watson's mother, Marilyn Cox, held on to hope years later.
“I don't think she's dead, Terry,” Cox said to a KGUN9 reporter in 2002. “I still don't. I just can't.”
Cox was murdered in 2003 in an unsolved case county law enforcement believed was likely connected to Watson's. Detectives are investigating Cox’s case separately.
Referring to Watson’s case, Lt. Bob Kimmins told KGUN9 in 2003: “I believe that we are in a position where we are not ready to call this a cold case that's going to sit and wait for a new lead that we don't have."
The case did go cold, but investigators remained confident.
“The key is that the suspect did make mistakes, and we're capitalizing on those now,” Sgt. Brad Foust told KGUN9 in 2007.
Today, nearly 12 years later, cold case detectives reexamined the case as part of their routine. Medical examiners positively identified Watson's remains through DNA testing. The sheriff's department would not say where, when or how those remains were located.
Deputy Tom Peine said investigators now need help continuing the progress.
“We are looking for additional information,” Peine said. “Whoever has information about this case to reach out to us.”
Those tips could make all the difference, according to Project Jason, an organization supporting families of the missing.
KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen asked project founder Kelly Jolkowski: “Do you think that now, 12 years later, in a case like this that something new could happen and the case could be cracked?” “I think that you never know and you just have to keep trying,” she answered over the phone. “Because even though the family has the answer of where Linda is, they don't have all the answers.”
A judge declared Watson legally dead back in 2006, but Monday was the first confirmation of this type that she's no longer alive. If you have any information in the case, call 9-1-1 or 88-CRIME.