Warren Watson sexually assaulted Claudia Miller before killing her, indictment says (64)
Update: Earlier this month, we told you that Warren Watson had been captured in Idaho after being named a person of interest in the slaying of Lakewood family attorney Claudia Miller; see our previous coverage in its entirety below.
Now, a grand jury has named Watson in eighteen charges, including first-degree murder -- and the indictment, also shared here, details a shocking crime in which the victim was sexually assaulted before being killed.
On March 5, according to the section of the document devoted to the facts of the case, members of the Lakewood Police Department were dispatched to a suite in an office complex located at 445 Union. There, they found the body of Miller, age 66, lying on the floor in a file storage room -- and the signs of sexual abuse were obvious. Her shirt and bra were pulled up over her chest, her pants were unbuttoned and had been lowered, and her underwear was missing.
In addition, Miller's wrists showed evidence of what the cops describe as "ligature marks," and she had postmortem abrasions on her stomach. An additional description adds a disturbing element: "The victim appeared to be very wet."
An autopsy later determined that she'd been strangled to death.
Investigators subsequently contacted Miller's secretary, who revealed that her boss had credit cards through Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Capital One and US Bank, plus a debit card with Mutual of Omaha -- and many of them were used between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on the day Miller died, at retailers such as multiple King Soopers outlets, a Ross clothing store, a Walmart and a Sapp Brothers truck stop in Commerce City.
Numerous surveillance photos circulated to the media -- see several below -- showed a man resembling Watson, and another finger was soon pointed in his direction. Police received a call from a woman who said she'd been staying with Watson at a Best Inn and Suites on the 4500 block of Quebec in Denver. She subsequently provided a cell phone number for Watson that showed up on Miller's call logs.
More surveillance footage offered still more evidence. Miller's phone was found in a dumpster on the 2800 block of Downing in Denver, and a camera from a nearby video captured a black Honda like the one she'd owned pulling up to it. The driver then put a black trash bag inside, and the indictment identifies him as Watson.
Among the other items in the bag: blood-stained panties, plus zip ties of the sort that might have created the aforementioned ligature marks.
The 445 Union office complex where the crime was committed.
Investigators later found Miller's car at a Sapp Brothers truck stop not far from the Best Inn where he'd stayed, and determined that he'd boarded a flight to Idaho on March 7. He was captured in Boise the next day, and even though he had not yet been charged in Miller's murder, a parole violation kept him in custody, allowing Lakewood detectives to fly there and interview him.
What did Watson say? The indictment quotes a graphic confession. A chilling excerpt:
Warren Watson admitted to pulling out what he described as a fake gun and telling Claudia Miller to get down on the floor. He admitted to tying her up, going through her purse and taking her money and her credit cards. He admitted that he strangled her. He admitted touching her labia and running his hands on the outside of her vagina. He stated that he took a Kleenex to wipe her and his hand went inside her. He said that the napkin fell apart and he used water to flush it out. Warren Watson admitted to being sexually aroused and intended to have sex with Claudia Miller at some point. He also admitted to killing her.
Look below to see Watson's latest booking photo and the complete indictment. That's followed by our previous coverage.
Warren Watson's latest mug shot.
Update, 2:35 p.m. March 8: Earlier today, we noted that Warren Watson, 52, had been identified as a person of interest in the homicide of family-law attorney Claudia Miller -- and that he was wanted on an unrelated warrant. Now, he's been taken into custody a long ways from the 400 block of Union Boulevard, where Miller's life ended.
His location? The city of Caldwell, Idaho. Lakewood police reps will be traveling there over the weekend to interview him, but he hasn't been charged with Miller's murder -- yet. Continue for more about Watson in our previous coverage below.
Update, 11:59 a.m. March 8: Yesterday, we told you about the death of Claudia Miller, an attorney in Lakewood who specialized in family law. Police immediately began to investigate the case as a homicide and distributed surveillance images of a man using her credit card at two different stores. Previous coverage below.
The latest? The Lakewood Police Department has named a person of interest in the case: Warren Dale Watson, age 52. When it comes to police interest, this isn't Watson's first rodeo.
As we've reported, Lakewood cops responded to an office complex on the 400 block of Union Boulevard at around 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, after a member of the cleaning crew found a woman's body. The victim was subsequently identified as Miller, 66 -- a lawyer beloved by her friends and colleagues. We still don't know the circumstances of her death beyond the fact that police say she suffered "some trauma."
Before long, investigators were able to obtain surveillance pics of a man using Miller's plastic at a Walmart and a King Soopers in close proximity to each other. Here's one from the latter.
They also found Miller's car, a 2012 Honda Accord, at a location in north Denver. It's currently being analyzed for clues about her killer.
Now, the LPD is calling Watson a person of interest. He's approximately five-six and 170 pounds and has been known to wear glasses -- all identifiers that make him at least a general fit with the person at the center of the surveillance snaps.
Watson is described as a "wanted fugitive" on an unrelated case with an active warrant for his arrest -- no surprise given his history. As 7News points out, he's racked up four pages worth of raps on his Colorado Bureau of Investigation sheet, including forgery, burglary and vehicle theft charges during the 1990s and a couple of escape attempts in the 2000s. He's considered armed and dangerous.
If you know anything about Watson's current location, phone Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867, which is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information.
Look below to see a couple of past Watson mug shots, followed by a 7News report.
Warren Watson, take two.
Original post, 2:57 p.m. March 7: The death of Claudia D. Miller, a 66-year-old attorney practicing in Lakewood, is being investigated as a homicide. And members of the Lakewood Police Department have several very large clues to assist them in their efforts.
Images of a suspect using a credit card belonging to Miller were snapped at not one but two major retailers in the area. See the photos and a map of the area, and get details about the crime below.
At around 8:15 p.m. on March 5, according to the LPD, officers responded to an office complex on the 400 block of Union Boulevard. Turns out a member of the building's cleaning crew had discovered a woman's body. The cause of death hasn't been officially determined, but cops say the body had suffered "some trauma."
The victim was subsequently identified as Miller, a veteran litigator. The Denver Post reports that she was admitted to the state bar back in 1983 and is a longtime member of the First Judicial Bar Association who chaired the group's banquet committee. She specialized in family law and was known by colleagues for her ebullient personality.
Investigators are said to be following up on several leads -- among them footage from a Walmart at 36th and Quebec and a King Soopers not far away, at 28th and Quebec. They show a man using Miller's plastic. The image from the Walmart store gives only a vague indication of his features....
...but the pair from King Soopers are sharper and more vivid. Here's the first....
...and here's the second:
Also missing was Miller's car, and the timing of its disappearance suggests that her killer may have driven it away. The vehicle is a black 2012 Honda Accord with Colorado license plate 915-YTU, and a short time ago, the LPD announced that it had been located in a north-metro Denver location. It's been impounded and will be processed for its "evidentiary value."
If you have other information about the case, dial Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867; a reward of up to $2,000 is being offered for information leading to her killer's arrest and conviction.
Look below to see an interactive graphic of the area near the crime scene; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Darren Bingham accused of killing Zachary Gonzales in Yarrow Street murder (63)."