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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 10/26/2012 

 Joint Investigation Leads To Suspect’s Arrest in 19-Year-Old Cold Case Homicide 


Jahala Watson’s Son, Christopher “Shane” Knight, charged with Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter in the death of his mother and her unborn child


Sheriff Grady Judd announces today, Friday, October 26, 2012, the arrest of 39-year-old Christopher “Shane” Knight (AKA Christopher Shane Watson), DOB 9/20/1973, of 4367 Sun Center Road in Mulberry, in the death of his mother, Jahala Watson, and her unborn baby. 

“This arrest is a culmination of the hard work and efforts of four agencies – the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, FDLE, and the State of Florida’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, Prosecutor Nicholas Cox. Jahala Watson was viciously murdered by her own son 19 years ago, and we hope with this arrest we can bring some closure to her family members.” – Sheriff Grady Judd 

“We never stop looking for answers and searching for clues,“ said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center Special Agent in Charge Rick Ramirez.  “This is a great example of law enforcement working together to make this arrest.” 

According to the affidavit, 39-year-old Jahala Watson of Mulberry, formerly of 3755 Davis Road in Mulberry and the owner of Jahala’s Place restaurant in Mulberry (which had closed a few months prior to her death), who was seven months pregnant with a baby boy, disappeared on Sunday, June 20, 1993. The last person to have seen her was her then 19-year-old son, Christopher Shane, who lived with her and whom she financially supported. Friends reported that mother and son frequently argued about his use of her car, finances, and other household issues. One friend reported that the two had an argument on Sunday, June 20th, and then Shane ordered the friend to leave. Once outside the home, the friend continued to hear arguing, and then silence. Jahala was never seen or heard from again, and her car was missing. 

After the argument, Shane cancelled the plans he had made for that Sunday evening, and did not go to work the following two days – Monday and Tuesday, June 21st through 22nd.

Jahala’s mother (Shane’s grandmother) repeatedly called Shane asking where Jahala was, and where her car was. She asked Shane for the tag number to Jahala’s car, and reported Jahala and her car missing to PCSO on Tuesday, June 22nd 

Late Tuesday afternoon, June 22nd, Jahala’s body was found alongside the roadway of SR 471 in Sumter County, north of the Polk County line about .5 mile from her brother’s property line. A passing truck driver saw her body, stopped, and called law enforcement. Her car was found parked in the then-Walmart parking lot (currently Staples parking lot) on South Florida Avenue in Lakeland. Shane had been told by numerous people since Sunday that they saw the car there, however, he never acknowledged it, or went to get the car, or reported it to PCSO. 

Shane told friends on Wednesday, June 23rd, that he had been told by law enforcement that his mother’s body had been found. In fact, Shane had not spoken to any law enforcement – her body had not yet been positively identified at that time. 

An autopsy revealed Jahala Watson died as a result of stabbing, and that the unborn fetus she was carrying also died as a result of Jahala being killed. Both their manners of death were ruled homicide.

Jahala’s ex-husband (Shane’s father) while searching the house for clues in Jahala’s disappearance, found the clothes Jahala was last seen wearing on Sunday morning, June 20th, along with her cigarettes and lighter, which she, a heavy smoker, never left behind. 

Throughout the investigation, Shane has had made several inconsistent statements to detectives, friends, and family members about his mother’s disappearance, and murder.  

In October 2012, PCSO Homicide detectives obtained a warrant from Statewide Prosecutor Nicholas Cox for the arrest of C. Shane Knight, charging him with one count Second Degree Murder and one count Manslaughter in the homicide of his mother, Jahala Watson, and her unborn baby boy, who would have been named Skylar Levi Watson. 

PCSO Homicide detectives took Christopher Shane Knight into custody on Thursday, October 25, 2012.

Shane Knight was booked into the Polk County Jail during the evening hours of Thursday, October 25th, for Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter. 

CRIMINAL HISTORY: Christopher Shane Knight, AKA Shane Watson, was arrested by PCSO in November 1992 for Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, and he received three months’ probation. He was arrested by PCSO in May 2000 for Battery Domestic Violence, which was no billed. He was arrested by PCSO in June 2000, for two counts Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon, which was no billed. His last and most recent arrest was by PCSO in November 2004, for Battery Domestic Violence, which was no billed.