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Shandell Harris, Allegedly Murdered by Carl Monty Watts Jr.in Miami, and Ties to Vickie Simmons, Trukita Scott

Shandell Harris had described her husband as dangerous. But when Carl Monty Watts Jr. allegedly gunned the 30-year-old down in broad daylight, in front of her family, at a Miami pool last week, the brutality went beyond her loved ones’ wildest fears.

The Sunday afternoon shooting was something straight out of a horror movie. Police say Watts confronted Harris at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center (JCC), where her 11-year-old daughter was taking swimming lessons. According to police, he arrived to issue a desperate demand—backed up by the promise of cash—that Harris retract accusations he had stabbed her the night before, while they were fighting about his alleged infidelity.

Police say Watts eventually shot his wife of about a year until he ran out of bullets at the crowded pool deck, and was captured by private security guards. Watts, 45, has since been charged with second-degree murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and is currently being held without bond at a Miami-Dade jail.

“I was telling her to stay away and stay inside because he was going to look for [her],” Harris’ close friend Jamie Copeland told The Daily Beast, adding that the last thing she said to her that Sunday was “stay safe, because I would lose my mind if something was to happen.”

But while Watts’ potential for violence may have been only hinted at before the stabbing and shooting, police have identified him as a person of interest—albeit not a suspect—in the disappearance of another mother. And family members of a third woman who was murdered have indicated the two had been romantically linked at some point.

Neither Watts nor his attorney responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Friday, and he was neither charged nor identified as an official suspect in any crimes in connection with either of those women. But the surreal spectacle that unfolded in Miami last week added to family members’ collective trauma—and had some asking questions about why police failed to get Watts off the street sooner.

“When I met him, I thought something was off with him,” a devastated Lynnette Finnie, whose niece, Trukita Scott, vanished in June 2014, told The Daily Beast. “We kept hearing different things about him, and we all had a bad feeling. The second we knew she was missing, we knew he had something to do with it.”

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department told The Daily Beast that “Watts is considered a person of interest” in that case, centering on a 24-year-old with whom he shared a child and who was last seen leaving her job at a U-Haul. That same contention about his potential involvement was made back in 2014 by a federal prosecutor in connection with a separate weapons charge against Watts, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time. (A court filing indicated Watts was “suspected of having committed a violent crime,” but a prosecutor later clarified that he was merely a person of interest in Scott’s disappearance, according to police.)

Years earlier, in February 2009, 25-year-old Vickie Simmons was found dead at a Biscayne Boulevard motel two days after she went missing. As the Miami Herald reported, her sister, Lashon Jones, has said that Watts and Simmons dated—and claimed that she was told by a detective that Watts was, at one point, considered a suspect in her sister’s case.

How was he on the streets? How did he continue to get away with crimes?

— Kengeral Allen-Scott

A Miami-Dade Police spokesperson declined to comment on whether Watts was currently or had in the past been investigated in connection with Simmons’ murder, but noted that cold-case homicide investigators were “re-visiting” the 13-year-old case.

“I wish she would have left when she found out about the last victim they accused him for, but she wasn’t sure if it was true, ‘cause she saw a different side of [him than] what people were saying,” Copeland said of Harris. “He was a dangerous man.”

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Vickie Simmons was found dead in 2009, two days after she went missing.

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Facebook

Thirteen years before the poolside slaughter, the one-time garbage man allegedly got into another ugly fight with another lover. A 25-year-old mother who once worked as an exotic dancer, Simmons had dated Watts for a couple of years, a fact her sister always had reservations about.

“I knew it wasn’t a good relationship, and she wanted out,” Jones told WSVN, telling a local NBC affiliate that the pair eventually had a falling out.

Police say Simmons was found dead inside the Sun N Surf Inn on Feb. 19, 2000—two days after her family said they reported her missing. Authorities have not released many details about Simmons’ case, including how she was murdered. Jones, however, claimed that soon after her sister’s murder, a Miami-Dade detective told her Watts was considered a suspect, but that they did not have enough evidence to charge him.

That police did not charge Watts always bothered Jones, who told local media that she had learned from Simmons’ son that the pair would often get into arguments—and that Watts had a lengthy criminal history that included a case in which her late sister was a witness.

The Miami-Dade Police Department did not respond to a request for comment about Simmons’ case.

Court documents indicate that in 2003, Watts was arrested for aggravated kidnapping with a weapon, armed robbery, and armed burglary after allegedly trying to rob a man at a Miami Springs hotel. While the case was eventually dropped, the Miami Herald reported that Simmons was listed as a witness. After that arrest, Watts would see the inside of a cell many times, including when he was sentenced to three years for grand theft—and later tried to escape.

“Have you seen how many times he was in and out of jail?” Trukita Scott’s mother Kengeral Allen-Scott asked The Daily Beast in an interview. “How was he on the streets? How did he continue to get away with crimes?”

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Trukita Scott vanished in June 2014.

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Facebook

Watts was actually arrested just a month before Allen-Scott’s daughter Trukita went missing in 2014, this time for allegedly trying to force an 18-year-old girl at a Broward County bus stop into his car. According to an arrest report obtained by the Herald, Watts told police he “normally picks up young pretty girls when he sees them on the side of the road” and that he was “lonely because his girlfriend broke up with him and he just wanted companionship.” Watts would later plead no contest to battery and false imprisonment charges, and got time served for 335 days in jail.

According to her family, the girlfriend Watts mentioned was Scott. The pair, according to Allen-Scott, had met during her daughter’s senior year of high-school at a gas station, but had maintained an “on-and-off relationship” until around 2014, when she decided to leave him.

“The last time she decided to leave him, it was when he knew she was serious about it. I think it drove him crazy,” Allen-Scott said.

Police say Scott was last seen in Miami Gardens on June 25, 2014, and that “she did not come home or pick up her kids from daycare” after her shift at U-Haul. That day, Allen-Scott said that her daughter had taken her around town to run some errands—and that Scott abruptly said she had to go home “because she had a headache and wanted to sleep.”

“Now I know she actually went to go meet with him. She kept getting calls while we were in the car and she was ignoring them,” Allen-Scott said. Later that night, Allen-Scott continued, she called her daughter 23 times—and when Scott didn’t answer the phone, she immediately knew something was gravely wrong.

“I immediately started texting family members, ‘Carl’s got her,’” Allen-Scott said.

The mother claimed that Watts later acknowledged to the family that her daughter went to his house to pick up money for their child that day—but insisted that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. About a week after she was reported missing, police said, they found her abandoned 2007 Nissan Altima in Liberty City. Watts eventually was brought in for questioning, according to local reports, but was never arrested in Scott’s case.

“If you looked at his eyes, it was like he had no soul,” Allen-Scott said. “It was like he was always lost.”

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Carl Watts with Shandell Harris

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Facebook

Hearing all of Watts’ history now, Copeland cannot fathom how her friend was ever involved with somebody like him.

“Shandell was very charming and sweet. Everybody loved her,” she told The Daily Beast. “It was very hard to get her upset.”

After dropping out during her senior year at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Harris moved to Albany, New York, to start over. She eventually worked for Turner Jobs Corps, where a tuition-free training and education program helped her get her GED, after which she secured a job as a home health aide.

But Copeland said that her close friend eventually moved back to Miami, and met Watts about three years ago, tying the knot two years later.

“When Shandell met Carl for the first time, she was in love with him,” Copeland said. “He made her feel like a queen at first—and then he started changing.”

According to Copeland, Harris said that Watts started “cheating constantly,” and that by April, she was at the end of her rope with the “dangerous man.”

Copeland and police both say that Harris found messages on Watts’ phone with another woman on April 1. The discovery led to a late Friday night fight—and ended with Harris telling Watts around 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, that she wanted a divorce.

According to a Miami Police Department incident report reviewed by The Daily Beast, Watts responded to Harris’ request by hitting her “on the left side of her face with a closed fist.”

“He told he he could not and would not live without her, then went to the kitchen to retrieve a kitchen knife,” the report states, adding that Watts then began to stab Harris six times on her left forearm, thigh, and hand.

After the attack, the report states, Watts told Harris that he would “kill himself if she left him and held a gun to his head.”

“She convinced him not to do that, and he put the gun in his pocket,” the report adds, noting that Harris told her husband that she loved him so he would “calm down.”

In an apparent attempt to make up for his violent outburst, Harris told police that Watts then wanted “to clean her wounds and insisted they clean all the blood in the apartment with bleach.” The report states that Watts also told Harris “he would not go back to jail so they had to destroy all the clothes they were wearing” before crudely attempting to clean her wounds, taking Watts to a Family Dollar and Walgreens for supplies.

At Family Dollar, the report states, Harris was able “to call her mother and make a plan so she could get help,” which included asking Harris to bring her to mother’s house. At the house, Harris “told her family to close and lock the door” while her mother, Dulcinea Harris, called the police.

Watts was looming outside, cops say.

“The suspect came to the door of the mother’s house and began banging and asking for the victim to come outside,” the report states, adding that he later came back “with something in his hand” and that the family did not answer.

The report notes that Watts eventually “drove away” when police officers arrived at the scene after a second call. Harris then drove herself to the hospital, where she eventually spoke to police and indicated that she was going to stay at her mother’s house.

Watts would not be seen again until April 3—when Harris, her mother, and her 11-year-old daughter would be at the community pool like they had been every Sunday for the last month.

At the pool, Watts demanded that Harris retract her account of the stabbing, including offering her money so she wouldn’t press charges, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast. “I saw him first. I stood up and grabbed her arm. All he said was, ‘How much can I give you to make this go away?’ He said it twice. Then he shot her,” Dulcinea Harris told the Miami Herald. “He had money in his hand.”

Parents, kids, pool employees, and Harris’ own family watched in horror as he repeatedly shot at Harris—continuing to fire as he stood over his wife’s body “until he ran out of live cartridges,” the arrest affidavit states.

For Copeland, the reality that her best friend might have just been the latest of several women tied to Watts to experience a violent demise was overwhelming. But for Allen-Scott, the news of another woman in Watts’ orbit being lost was an example of a failed justice system.

“This did not need to happen. He could have been caught in 2009. He could have been caught in 2014. It’s just failure after failure,” Allen-Scott said. “Another family did not have to lose their daughter. I’m just angry.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/shandell-harris-allegedly-murdered-by-carl-monty-watts-jrin-miami-and-ties-to-vickie-simmons-trukita-scott?source=articles&via=rss Shandell Harris, Allegedly Murdered by Carl Monty Watts Jr.in Miami, and Ties to Vickie Simmons, Trukita Scott

Russell Falcon

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