Homeless woman's murder causes concern

July 31, 2009 6:17:57 AM PDT
Just steps from the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh where Martha Watkins was found murdered earlier this week, there is a soup kitchen she frequented. Tamara Gregory, executive director of the Shepherd's Table, knew Watkins and fears the same thing could happen to others.

"This is a daughter or a sister of somebody," Gregory told Eyewitness News. "If this could happen to someone, it could happen to anyone."

To most, Watkins was just a homeless lady, but to Gregory she was Martha.

"[Watkins] Kept to herself, never bothered anyone, would say hello, eat and goodbye," Gregory said. Gregory said she had seen Watkins come and go from Shepherd's table and its shelter for two years.

"She stayed on the streets, sometimes at the shelter, carried everything she owned on her back," Gregory said. But it all changed Tuesday morning when someone discovered 54-year-old Watkins' body on the grounds of Sacred Heart Cathedral.

"Officers came over and started canvassing the area, talking with people," Gregory explained. "They've been there every day since. They've talked with folks, they're following up leads. They've put posters up."

Everyday a makeshift memorial reminds the more than 300 who line up at the shelter for food.

"We just try to say a few words, take a moment of silence, just to acknowledge that that person was here and that they will be missed," Gregory said. "These folks face not only social challenges, drug and alcohol challenges, but just life on the street and it's dangerous."

Gregory said the dangers for the homeless are real. What really bothers the Executive Director is the thought of who the next victim could be.

"People are living paycheck to paycheck, and with our economy, we just don't know where we might end up," she explained.

Watkins' killer is still out there.

"If this could happen to someone, it could happen to anyone," Gregory said. "I'm hoping that somebody has some information out there and they'll come forward with it."

Police haven't released the cause of death, a suspect description or a motive.

Anyone with information about the case should call police.


Load Comments