Arrest Made in 27-Year-Old Cold Case Murder of Former Clarion Woman
Karen Ann Watson was found stabbed to death in March, 1987 at her Florida home, according to the Polk County Sherrif’s Office. She was 41 years old at the time of her murder.
Her murder was unsolved for 27 years until police in Sandusky, Ohio, arrested Carl McCauley, 64, a friend whose DNA matched bodily fluids found at the scene, according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Horstman in an Orlando Sentinel report.
According to the affidavit, on March 24, 1987, Charles Watson, Karen’s husband, arrived home from work around 1:30 p.m. and found his wife’s body on the living room couch in their home (located at 1103 Old Polk City Road in Lake Alfred) with multiple stab wounds. Her death was ruled a homicide, and the autopsy revealed that Karen had had sexual intercourse just prior to her death. The crime scene was processed and evidence was collected. Eyewitnesses reported possibly seeing a white male wearing some sort of uniform shirt in the neighborhood during the time frame of the murder, and a beige-over-gold car at the Watson home.
In 1989, detectives interviewed Jacqueline McCauley, whose name had come up as a friend of the Watsons. When she was interviewed, she told detectives that both she and her husband knew the Watsons and had been to their home. Carl McCauley was employed by Adam’s Lumber Company at the time. The company confirmed that Carl did not come to work on March 24, 1987. Employees of the company also wore blue uniform shirts. Carl drove a beige-over-gold Chevy Nova at that time.
Through further investigation, detectives learned that the McCauleys were seen arguing at the Dew Drop Inn bar in Lake Alfred on the morning of March 24, 1987, approximately 6.6 miles south of the crime scene. Carl was not located or interviewed by detectives at that time.
On June 3, 2014, Polk County Sherrif’s Office Cold Case Homicide Detectives located Carl McCauley in Sandusky, Ohio, and traveled there to interview him. McCauley told detectives that he had never been inside the Watson’s home, and denied having a sexual relationship with Karen Watson. Detectives collected a DNA sample from McCauley and brought the sample back to Florida.
McCauley’s DNA was sent to the FDLE lab for DNA analysis and comparisons. On June 27, 2014, Polk County Sherrif’s Office received the lab results, and the comparison of McCauley’s DNA was a positive match for two separate samples of DNA (semen) left at the crime scene that was collected after Karen’s murder.
After interviewing McCauley, detectives also interviewed a girlfriend of his who told them that McCauley told her he had been interviewed by Florida detectives about the homicide of a woman with whom he had had sex, but did not kill. This is in direct contradiction with statements McCauley made to detectives that he had never been in Karen’s home, and had not had sex with her.
On August 27, 2014, Polk County Sherrif’s Office obtained an arrest warrant for Carl Junior McCauley. The Sandusky Police Department conducted surveillance on McCauley until Polk County Sherrif’s Office detectives arrived, and together the two agencies placed him under arrest without incident. Post-Miranda, McCauley told detectives that he had had sex with Karen Watson, but did not kill her. He then asked to speak with an attorney.
McCauley has been charged with First Degree Murder, and he will be extradited to Polk County to face this charge.
Investigators in Florida had obtained McCauley’s DNA after questioning after the murder, but left him go. 27 years later the investigators obtained a forensic match was consistent with that found at the crime scene.
McCauley was taken to the Erie County Jail (Florida) and held without bond.
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