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 (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 http://www.tipsubmit.com
– Terri Sanginiti