Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Lorrielle Watkins

Murdered May 1, 2007

~Age 29
~Hometown: Raleigh, NC

"Oh God. He's going to kill me," a neighbor said Lorrielle Wells Watkins, 29, screamed out in the pre-dawn hours of May 1, 2007. Police were called but Watkins was dead by the time they arrived at her Raleigh, NC apartment complex. She was stabbed to death with a knife and screwdriver, police say, by her ex-boyfriend, 25-year-old Mwanza Rama Bennett of Fayetteville, NC.

Bennett tried to flee the scene, but was apprehended and now faces charges of murder, resisting arrest and assault with a deadly weapon. The latter charge stems from Bennett's hitting a police officer with his car as he fled. The officer suffered minor injuries.

According to Watkins' mother, her daughter broke up with Bennett eight months ago. (Some news stories say the couple's relationship ended "recently.") Following the break-up Bennett called Watkins frequently, one time making 39 calls to her in a single day. The calls stepped up in the month before Watkins' murder. As far as Watkins' family knows Bennett was not violent towards Watkins prior to the day of her death.

Watkins was no stranger to domestic violence, however. She was married previously to a man her aunt described as "very abusive." She later left this man. Watkins' aunt could not believe Watkins survived that relationship only to be killed by a man who, the aunt said, had "no symptoms" of being abusive. [The past abuse is mentioned in only one news story. No additional details were provided. Watkins' obituary lists a husband among her surviving family members.]

Watkins got pregnant at 17, but went on to earn her GED. She later enlisted in the US Army and served two years in Germany and Ft. Bragg. More recently she was accepted into a practical nursing program. This was a dream come true for Watkins because Watkins felt a career in nursing would allow her to be self-sufficient, something that was important to her. At times Watkins worked two or three jobs to provide for her and her son. She was working full time at a nursing home, as well as attending nursing school, at the time of her death. She was only one semester away from completing nursing school.

Watkins leaves an 11-year-old son, Malik Donovan, who is autistic. He was in the apartment when his mother was killed. How much of the crime he witnessed is unclear because his autism prevents him from communicating the full details of what he saw or heard.

Lorrielle Watkins; Mwanza Bennett

WRAL-TV, May 1, 2007
ABC-11 (Raleigh-Durham), May 2, 2007
The News & Observer, May 2, 2007
The News & Observer, May 3, 2007
Obit/The News & Observer, May 6, 2007
The News & Observer, May 8, 2007

~Posted May 11, 2007


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