December 28 2014

– It’s been 10 years since that Dec. 26 night when 22-year-old Jessica Watson and co-worker Matthew Macerato, 18, were shot to death execution-style in the basement of the Casual Male Big & Tall store at the close of their shift.

A decade…and still this high-profile double homicide case remains unsolved.

With heavy hearts the victim’s families come back to the scene year after year to pray that one day their loved ones’ executioner will be arrested for needlessly taking the two young lives.

“For us as a family, it’s been every day,” said Paulette Watson, mother of Jessica. “It’s always a reminder of the lives lost between both families. It’s a missing link that will never be replaced.”

On Friday, a memorial vigil is planned for 6 p.m. at the Casual Male XL store, at 3924 Kirkwood Highway near Milltown where participants will pause in a moment of silence and release balloons in memory of the pair.

The vigil will be followed at 7 p.m. by a Night of Remembrance for family and friends at the Hilton on Churchmans Road in Stanton.

Then at 9 p.m., another get-together will be held at Mojo13 at 1706 Philadelphia Pike where Macerato’s childhood friend and music-producing partner Anthony Castro is hosting a Third World Entertainment reunion party in memory of Matthew and Jessica. Castro and Macerato co-created the production company.

Castro, who is two years older than Macerato, was serving jail time when his friend was slain at the Big & Tall store where his brother Raphael then managed. The teen had just started working for his Castro’s brother shortly before his death.

“He died on Dec. 26 and that same day I ended up getting a Christmas card from him with money in it,” Castro said. “It said, “Keep Believing.” That’s my everyday philosophy now.”

Co-workers Watson and Mascerato were closing up the store for the night 10 years ago when they were interrupted by a gunman, who forced the two downstairs and shot each of them in the back of the head, police said.

Detectives believe the motive for the crime was robbery, yet in spite of investigators’ efforts, they could never link the robbery to a suspect.

Matthew Macerato.JPG
Matthew Macerato (Photo: The Macerato Family)
Detective Mark Ryde — who joined the state police homicide unit five years after the slayings in 2009 — described the crime as a robbery gone bad.

But if robbery was the sole motive for the crime, then why wouldn’t the gunman just have shot the two employees by the register upstairs if he didn’t want to be identified?

The victims’ families have always believed it was not a random act. Nothing in the store was ransacked and the vacuum cleaner was still in the middle of the floor where Maserato left it.

“The proceeds of that day were taken, which leads us to believe robbery was the motive,” Ryde said. “But to execute these people seems that the robbery was an afterthought to cover-up the execution.”

But the question remains, what prompted someone to execute these employees after the store was closed?

The investigation has been hampered from the beginning because the store had no video surveillance system.

A shell casing recovered from the scene was later sent to a specialty lab in England to retrieve any fingerprints. But nothing was found.

Over the years, an FBI criminal profiler looked into the case, even a psychic. No one has ever come forward to claim the more that $30,000 offered in reward money.

The gun used in the slayings has not turned up since in any other crime, and all tips received over the years were followed up and yielded no solid suspect, Ryde said.

“With this business being situated on Kirkwood Highway, with all these avenues of egress, it could turn out that it was somebody passing through who took advantage,” he said.

Since time tends to change relationships, a break in the case could come from an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife who feels safe enough to talk and finally comes forward with information. They generally don’t feel safe, though, unless that person is in jail.

Recently, someone called in a tip after overhearing someone talking about the case and passed along a nickname mentioned, Ryde said. It was a name investigators were familiar with.

“We’ve heard a couple different names in this case,” Ryde said. “This one person’s name has come up several times and he’s been interviewed before. But we don’t have any evidence linking him to the crime.

“My opinion is, he hasn’t been cleared,” he said. “He wasn’t in jail at the time and we can’t account for his whereabouts that day. He’s a person of interest.”

Jha Niah Watson, Jessica’s now nearly 12-year-old daughter who was just 22-months-old when her mother was slain, has an obsession with the crime show CSI, her grandmother said.

“She wants to know what happened to her Mom,” she said. “She says, ‘Maybe if I watch this show, I could figure out who killed my Mommy.’

“That’s one thing we do not know and pray that the person who did this will come forward so we can ask him that question,” Watson said.

Casual Male XL manager Kip Lee, who has managed the store since it reopened in February, 2005 following the slayings, said to this day, customers still ask about Jessica.

“They speak of her often and knew she was a young mother,” Lee said. “She was a beautiful girl and always had a pleasant spirit about her.”

Two weeks ago, Lee said, he was awakened about 3 a.m. by the store’s alarm and rushed to the business to find the same shift of emergency responders who were called out to the store that tragic night.

“How ironic it was,” Lee said. “It’s just upsetting when you think about their murderer not being found in all this time.”

People with soft hearts this time of year may be prompted by the spirit of holiday season to pass along the much-needed information detectives need to close the case.

“All these years and we still have nothing,” Watson said. “I know detectives have gotten a lot of leads that have led no where. It’s time to revisit this and put it back out there. Maybe someone who knows something will come forward. You never know until you shake the tree.”

Anyone with information on these slayings is asked to call Detective Mark Ryde at (302) 299-6102 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333 or online at

– Terri Sanginiti


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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