LAURINBURG — The North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office has now ruled the two-year-old death of Thomas Eric Watts a homicide following new information in the case, according to Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey.
The 22-year-old died July 3, 2014 after a fight on Ray Locklear Road in Laurinburg.He was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS. Kersey said the cause of death had been listed as “undetermined.”
After a review of the case files last month by the Sheriff’s Office’s newly formed Cold Case unit, investigators said there are discrepancies and inconsistencies.
The Sheriff’s Office requested the assistance of nationally recognized medical coroner, who specializes in second review autopsies. Officials have not disclosed the name of the coroner. They said he has not charged the county for his help.
“The decision to reopen the investigation came from Sheriff Kersey’s continued promise to the citizens of Scotland County, that each and every investigation left unsolved before his administration came into office, will receive a fair and honest review in hopes that we can bring closure for the victims that never received that chance,” the Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page.
The Cold Case unit found some 11,846 open investigative files that included unsolved rapes, robberies, assaults with a deadly weapon, burglaries and home invasions.
Lt. Jessica Sadovnikov is leading the Watts investigation. The Sheriff’s Office said it may request the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation.
“We are very happy and hopeful. We have been pushing for justice for almost 2 years,” Watts family said in a statement. “It is nice to finally be heard. We have always known that Eric’s case was handled negligently and it is nice to finally have someone agree with us who is in the position to do something about it. We have prayed long and hard, this could be the answer the answer to our prayers. We could get justice for Eric.”
For questions or information related to this case, contact Scotland County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Investigations at 910-266-4185 or 910-551-8736.