The Dateline episode “Secrets of the Desert” investigates the deaths of three women in Tucson. In August 2000, 35-year-old Linda Watson went missing from her home. In 2003, a skull was found in the Sonoran desert. In 2009, a bone sample proved the skull belonged to Watson. When it was exhumed, the examiner reported that Linda Watson was murdered. Fifteen years later, in 2015, Linda’s ex-husband, former Tucson firefighter David Watson, was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder. He was also charged with her mother Marilyn Cox’s murder, and Cox’s neighbor Renee Farnsworth’s murder.
At the time of Linda’s murder, Linda and David were in a bitter custody battle over their 4-year-old daughter. When Linda disappeared, her mother accused her former son-in-law of being involved. In 2003, after dropping off her granddaughter to Watson’s house for a visit, Marilyn Cox and her friend Renee Farnsworth were shot dead in Cox’s driveway. The gun was never found. In 2007, when Watson was promoted to captain, his second wife Rosemary Watson (who just divorced him) told police what she knew. In April 2017, David Watson was sentenced to life in prison for the three murders. Dateline NBC airs Fridays at 9pm.