Nov 27, 2010 Miranda Pennock Uncategorized
Onondaga County Undersheriff Warren Darby has announced Steven Pieper, 21, of Coconut Tree Drive, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Jenni-Lyn Watson.
Watson’s body was found in Clay Central Park this morning.
“Our search teams discovered the body of what we believe to be Jenni-Lyn Watson over behind the Clay Central Park,” Darby said during a press conference shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday. “The criminal investigation has been ongoing through the last week.”
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Watson’s body is at the county medical examiner’s office. Due to other pending cases, an autopsy will likely not be performed until tomorrow morning, Nov. 28.
“It’s foolish to speculate cause of death,” Fitzpatrick said. “Whatever the cause of death was it wasn’t one that precipitated a lot of blood.”
Officials said Watson and Pieper dated on and off for approximately 18 months and they understand Watson desired the relationship to end.
According to Fitzpatrick, Watson’s parents were aware of the relationship and did “everything appropriate to protect their daughter.”
Fitzpatrick said authorities knew very early on Pieper was their prime suspect.
“[He] visited the Watson home on Friday [Nov. 19] morning. We believe he was the last person to see her alive,” he said.
According to Fitzpatrick, it appears Watson was not alive when taken from her home on Donegal Way in Liverpool.
She was “dumped like garbage” in the park, he told reporters.
Watson did not have a vehicle available to her the morning of Nov. 19 and police have yet to have eye witnesses come forward saying they saw Pieper’s vehicle, a Volkswagen, in the area of Clay Central Park that day.
“The men and women who worked on the case, we knew as much as you can know something, that Jenni-Lyn met with foul play very early on in this case,” Fitzpatrick said. “But it’s not for us to say that, and we always would hold out hope that she would knock on the door over the weekend and say ‘I’m sorry, I did something silly. I took off with a friend. I didn’t call you, I’m sorry Mom and Dad.’ And that would have made everybody in this room the happiest human beings on the face of the Earth.”
The search for Watson, who went missing eight days ago after returning home to spend Thanksgiving break with her family, was narrowed down to a wooded area in the town of Clay based on her cell phone records.
“We had electronic indication of where her phone was. We do not think she left the home alive,” Fitzpatrick said.
The phone was not found during the search. Fitzpatrick said it would be a “fruitless effort” for search for it now.
Pieper is currently represented by council and has denied any involvement in her death, police said.
Fitzpatrick said the accused will be arraigned this evening at Clay Town Court. It will be the People’s position that Pieper be held without bail, he said.
4 p.m. UPDATE:
The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department is reporting that search crews discovered a body believed to be that of Jenni-Lyn Watson in a heavily wooded area near Clay Central Park.
Watson, 20, of Liverpool, was reported missing by family Friday Nov. 19. She had returned home a day earlier from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania to spend the Thanksgiving break with family. Watson is a junior dance major at the college.
Detectives along with more than 60 law enforcement personnel from the sheriff’s office, United States Marshals, United States Probation, New York State Police, Forest Rangers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Onondaga County Probation, Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office, City of Syracuse Police Department , Wilderness Search & Rescue and the Oswego County Search and Rescue, returned to continue searching a wooded area between Morgan Road and east of Henry Clay Boulevard and between Buckley Road and Route 481.
A team of 18 law enforcement personnel began searching a heavily wooded area surrounding Clay Central Park, just north of Wetzel Road and discovered the body around 10:30 a.m.
On Friday, Undersheriff Warren Darby asked that property owners in the area being searched check their property, including storage sheds. At the time, investigators were working under the assumption they would find Watson and bring her home, but had been working with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office in the event the investigation turned criminal rather than merely a missing persons case.
“We are proceeding as quickly as we can,” Darby said Friday evening. “We would love to bring Jenni-Lyn home.”
Eight days ago, 20-year-old Jenni-Lyn Watson, of Liverpool, went missing shortly after returning home from Mercyhurst College for Thanksgiving break.
Today authorities have gathered near Clay Central Park on Wetzel Road where they continued to search for Watson.
Crime scene tape has been strung along the park and there is some indication that human remains have been found in the town of Clay. There has been no confirmation from investigators.