Note: we are republishing this story, which originally made the news in February 2020, amid recent reports that suggest prison violence is on the rise across American jails.
41-year-old Jonathan Watson, a California inmate accused of killing two convicted child molesters with a cane last month, has publicly confessed to the murders. Watson added that he’d given prison officials plenty of warning before the attacks, but it fell on deaf ears.
In a letter to Mercury News, Watson confessed to killing 48-year-old David Bobb and 64-year-old Graham De Luis-Conti just one week after he was transferred to California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran.
In the letter, Watson stated that hours before the attacks, he told a counselor that he wanted to be transferred, and added that the request was “urgent.” He wrote that he said that he would soon attack another inmate, but he was ignored.
Watson wrote that he had been given a lower-level security classification, from Level III to Level II, and was transferred from a single-person cell to dorm-style living at the Corcoran prison. The transfer displeased him, and he called it a “careless” mistake by CDCR, explaining that he left “quite a paper trail” of grievances protesting the transfer.
In the letter, he stated that a “child molester” moved into his pod six days into his stay at the prison. He doesn’t say whether it was Bobb or Luis-Conti, instead referring to the man as “Molester #1.” Watson wrote that Molester #1 began watching PBS Kids in full view of the other inmates, who took it as a taunt.
Watson wrote about that night, “I could not sleep having not done what every instinct told me I should’ve done right then and there, so I packed all of my things because I knew one way or another the situation would be resolved the following day.”
Watson spoke to a prison counselor the next day – two hours before the attacks – and stated that he needed to be transferred back to Level III “before I really (expletive) one of these dudes up.”
He said that the counselor “scoffed and dismissed me.”
Watson wrote that he returned to his pod after warning the counselor that he might turn violent.
He wrote: “I was mulling it all over when along came Molester #1 and he put his TV right on PBS Kids again. But this time, someone else said something to the effect of, ‘Is this guy really going to watch this right in front of us?’ and I recall saying, ‘I got this.’ And I picked up the cane and went to work on him.”
Watson wrote that he then left the pod and was on his way to find a guard and turn himself in when he encountered Molester #2 and decided to kill again.
“As I got to the lower tier, I saw a known child trafficker, and I figured I’d just do everybody a favor,” he wrote. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
His beatings failed to draw the attention of the correctional officials, so he approached an officer and confessed.
“I told him, ‘I’ve got some pretty bad news,’ to which he ironically replied, ‘You’re not going to hit me with that cane are you?’” Watson’s letter read. “So after jesting for a moment, knowing this might be the last decent moment that I have for a long time, I told him what I’d just done, which he also didn’t believe until he looked around the corner and saw the mess I’d left in the dorm area.”
He stated that after the killings, he gave a full confession to prison officials, “detailing the situation as I just did for you.”
There are no charges filed against Watson yet. According to court records, he is serving life for a 2009 murder conviction.
He stated that he will plead guilty to both murders if the state takes him to court. He also hinted that he would try to kill again if he is housed with child molesters in the future. https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/qGz21vdaLIE
Sources: The Mercury News