Personnel files released for fire official accused of cold case murder

Personnel files released for fire official accused of cold case murder

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Personnel files for a former Tucson Fire Department employee accused in a cold case murder paint a picture of a firefighter who scores high on public safety but has a bad attitude and suffered the consequences of a DUI arrest.  The City of Tucson released a nearly 200-page file on 46-year-old David Watson who served as a captain for the agency since 1995.  He quit May 29 once he learned he would be terminated, according to TFD.

Watson was arrested for allegedly murdering his ex-wife Linda Watson, her mother Marilyn Cox, and Cox's friend Renee Farnsworth.  Watson was hired by TFD in 1995 and had been serving in the role of captain since 2007.

The personnel files show Watson was arrested for DUI in 2009 with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.  He was suspended from work for two days, according to the files, and his pay was docked five-percent because of resulting driving restrictions including a suspended license and ignition interlock device.

Watson typically scored high on evaluations, but a March 2007 evaluation reveals he received a written reprimand for using "sarcasm" in a report documenting a colleague backing into a concrete pillar.  His response to the reprimand was somewhat edgy.

"Even though I described the incident as requested, a little humor apparently should have been left out," Watson writes in a memo.

Evaluations and other documents show his Tucson Fire supervisors were sympathetic after his ex-wife Linda Watson went missing in 2000.  In an October 2000 evaluation, a supervisor writes, "There has been some external, negative factors plague you in the past months and you have not let them affect your job performance."

Less than a year later, Watson received low marks for making an "inappropriate remark" to a supervisor after being accused of not checking a truck and being slow to a medical call.

In a 2013 evaluation, Watson was ordered to go through a Work Improvement Program because of a series of violations:  showing up to work late, being disrespectful to a supervisor and a cursing outburst, calling a Tucson Police officer a "little man" at a fire scene, referring to a crew member as "the other brown guy," and creating a "hostile work environment" as colleagues were reportedly trying to transfer out of his crew.

The personnel file shows Watson completed the Work Improvement Program.

A spokesman for the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System said Watson, by quitting, is due his pension equal to what he put into the system.  He is not vested (20-plus years) and therefore does not get lifetime benefits.

State law prohibits denying public safety personnel their pension payments that they paid into, even in the event of a felony arrest/conviction.

After arresting Watson, Pima County Sheriff's Department investigators said he has always been a prime suspect, but also said it was not one particular thing that led to the arrest.

They say it's a combination of evidence and tips from the public that put Watson behind bars. Finding Linda Watson's remains back in 2011 played a role as well. She went missing in 2000. Cox and Farnsworth were killed in 2003 at the same home where Watson disappeared.

Related links

Victims' family 'overjoyed' by cold-case arrest: 

What led to the arrest of David Watson: 

Tucson FD: Watson resigns after arrest:

Cold-case victim's sister: 'I knew who did it all along:'

David Watson pleads not guilty:

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