LOCAL NEWS

Mother Seeks Answers In Son’s Killing At Utah State Prison

Oct 15, 2019, 7:18 AM | Updated: 8:27 am

SANTAQUIN, Utah —More than three weeks after learning her son died inside the Utah State Prison under suspicious circumstances, a woman is pleading for more answers and justice in the case.

Wendy Harmon said Monday that few details had come to light beyond what was on 38-year-old Reo Watts’ death certificate.

That document, which Harmon shared with KSL, classified the case as a homicide and stated that the man had been strangled by another person in an assault.

“The medical examiner is the only one who has been completely forthright in giving me all the information that he could once he had finally completed his report,” Harmon said. “There are so many questions that aren’t answered that we are very disturbed about.”

Harmon said of particular concern was where Watts was placed inside the prison and with whom, and she said she wasn’t sure why her son was taken back to prison when he was arrested on July 31.

According to court records, Watts was charged with three misdemeanors — failure to stop at the command of law enforcement, possession or use of a controlled substance and possession of burglary tools — during that stop in Salt Lake City.

Wendy Harmon visits the gravesite of her son, Reo Watts. Watts was killed in the Utah State Prison in September 2019.

Wendy Harmon visits the gravesite of her son, Reo Watts. Watts was killed in the Utah State Prison in September 2019.

The charging documents stated that Watts told the arresting officers that he fled because he thought he had a warrant out for his arrest, which police discovered that he in fact did.

Harmon said she believed the warrant was related to a violation of his parole that was connected to his drug use.

“Why he was taken directly to the prison — I’m told it’s not against the law, but that is not protocol in his history,” Harmon said. “They have never taken him directly to the prison.”

The mother said she believed her son shouldn’t have been placed where he was in the prison or with his particular cellmate.

“Why he was placed with this guy, I don’t know, because this guy has committed several violent crimes,” Harmon said. “There are lots of things we don’t know.”

Reo Watts was killed while in the Utah State Prison in September 2019.

Reo Watts was killed while in the Utah State Prison in September 2019.

When asked prior to a Monday deadline about Watts’ prison placement, a Utah Department of Corrections spokesperson responded that she would look into it on Tuesday.

Utah Department of Public Safety public affairs director Marissa Cote said on Oct. 4 that there were no new updates in the case, which was being handled by the State Bureau of Investigation.

Another spokesperson, on duty for the Columbus Day holiday, did not return with any additional updates as of Monday night.

Harmon said she has visited Watts’ grave at the Santaquin City Cemetery practically every day and has been devastated since she learned of her son’s death.

“We were woken up at 2:30 in the morning, and they said my son was killed,” Harmon said. “Of course, I went berserk.”

Harmon remembered her son Monday as a loving, caring, hard-working man who went out of his way to help other people.

She acknowledged Watts had seen his share of legal struggles that she said ultimately stemmed from a drug addiction.

Wendy Harmon is pleading for answers after her son was murdered in the Utah State Prison.

Wendy Harmon is pleading for answers after her son was murdered in the Utah State Prison.

“It hadn’t been for 7½ years — he’d been clean off of meth,” Harmon said.

Watts, according to his mother, hadn’t started to use again until spring 2019 following a knee surgery.

“He tried to come back up from it, and I remember standing with him in the kitchen after his knee surgery,” the mother recalled. “He had slept this off for days and got his mind clear again and he just had tears streaming down his cheeks, just sobbing because he was so remorseful because he felt so guilty about relapsing, so he had relapsed and tested ‘dirty’ a couple of times.”

Harmon said she had even reached out to her son’s parole officer to try to get him into treatment, but to no avail.

“Whenever he’s clean and doing well, you get nothing but the truth out of that kid,” Harmon said. “He hated being where he was and hated that he couldn’t kick that. It just devastated him.”

Harmon said Watts was the type who didn’t want to dwell on the past and always wanted to move forward in life.

“He called me early in the afternoon the day of his death and was just on top of the world, excited because he was completely clear-headed,” she said. “He just told me, ‘Mom, I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve got a good plan and I’m excited about it.’”

Harmon said she hopes more answers will come soon and that the case will ultimately end with justice for her son’s death.

“Never in a million years would I have expected this, murder, to touch my home, to touch my son, to take his life,” she said, teary-eyed. “It should have never happened.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(FILE) Utah Tech University in St. George is pictured on Friday June 10, 2022. On July 1, what was...
Michael Houck

Utah Tech student dead after accidently falling from balcony

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A freshman Utah Tech University student is dead after accidentally falling from a fifth-floor balcony early Sunday morning. In a Utah Tech statement, student Peyton Hall fell from the fifth-floor balcony at Campus View Suites II at approximately 2:30 a.m. while with roommates and friends. The witnesses called 911, and first […]
16 hours ago
Three men are facing federal charges for allegedly robbing a postal carrier at gunpoint and taking ...
Brooke Williams

Man arrested after lengthy search, one still wanted

A 22-year-old man was arrested early Sunday after fleeing from a traffic stop.
16 hours ago
A West Valley police car. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)...
Brooke Williams

Two dead after crashing into parked truck

Two died in a crash in West Valley.
16 hours ago
Keith Jensen's Christmas home lit up by all the festive lights. (KSL-TV)...
Michael Locklear

Millcreek man lights up neighborhood with the face of Santa

Millcreek man is spreading Christmas cheer through tens of thousands of lights all around his home.
2 days ago
FILE PHOTO: The Chickadee lift is pictured at Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Thursday, Oct...
Michael Houck and Brooke Williams

Avalanche triggered at Snowbird resort, no injuries reported

Rescue crews responded to the Snowbird Ski Resort after an avalanche was triggered on a trail. 
2 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Lehi Police Department/Facebook)...
Michael Houck

Lehi building placed on ‘lock down’ after reports of man with a gun

A misunderstanding caused a building to be placed in "lock down" after reports of a man with a gun Tuesday.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Mother Seeks Answers In Son’s Killing At Utah State Prison