Shandreka T. Watson’s family offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who could give information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer. Holding Watson’s picture are, from left, Julius Pratt, Watson’s father, John Franklin, stepfather, Watson’s 3-year-old son and his grandmother Alisa Franklin.
ALBANY — When Alijah Watson was 15 months old in June of 2010, someone strangled his mother to death. He was the only other person to hear the attack.
Now 3 years old, Alijah doesn’t really know what his family talks about when they ask for help to find who killed his mother, 24-year-old Shandreka Watson.
“It has been two years since she was killed. We hope to find out what happened to her,” said Alisa Franklin, who, with her husband John is looking after Alijah. “We have no answers. I’m sure someone has to know who did this.”
According to police reports, Watson was alone with her son at 1205 Citrus Court when she was killed. The lack of forced entry evidence led police to believe that she opened the door for and probably knew her killer.
At a meeting with the family, grief dripped from every word the Franklins and Watson’s father, Julius Pratt, said. There was someone missing from their lives. They wanted to know why.
“I just want to know what happened,” Pratt said. “Who could take a life like that?”
The case has gone cold, but it is not being pushed aside, said Albany Police Department Detective Darrel Laster. Fresh eyes have been assigned the case, but Laster continues to think about and investigate the case.
“It bothers me even though I’m now off the case,” Laster said. “Someone did this and was never brought to justice. I can’t forget it.”
The family has offered a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction in the murder. That reward still stands.
What may not be standing are the relationships that have kept information from reaching the police. Many times someone who knows about a crime becomes alienated or angry with the guilty party. Then the facts come out.
Richard H. Walton, Utah State University author of the textbook “Cold Case Homicides: Practical Investigative Techniques,” said that most cold cases are cleared because relationships change over time.
Without discounting the DNA, fingerprint and material evidence in homicides, Walton said “changes in marriages, friendships, with drug dealers, people in the neighborhood and others are the way cold cases get solved.”
When a relationship changes, a witness or anyone who knows something, anything, can decide to come forward, Walton said. DNA, fingerprints and other evidence can degrade in storage, but a change in relationship could trigger a resident to step forward.
Keeping the case in the public mind can help a lot, Walton said. So can a $5,000 reward.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (229) 436-TIPS (8477) or investigations at (229) 431-3288. The Spanish-speaking APD-COP Tip Line is (229) 434-2677.