Stefanie Watson Case: Walsh Sentenced

This morning began on an odd note. At 5:30 AM, I was awake before the sun came up—in order to make sure I could be at the Prince George’s County Court House before 9 AM. It was dark, it was raining… and yet, birds were chirping.

The birds must’ve known that the darkness and clouds weren’t going to linger much longer. It was almost poetic, like so many other things surrounding the Stefanie Watson cold case, which officially reached a milestone this morning. John Ernest Walsh entered a guilty plea and was finally sentenced for her murder.

I had the honor of joining Stefanie’s family at the court house for his sentencing—a recap of that incredible experience is below.

While there are still plenty of questions to be answered, this was a tremendous milestone. After nearly 34 years, the case is finally closed.

I’m grateful to see that Stefanie’s story is also finally getting the attention it deserves—newspapers across the country are already running the Associated Press story about today’s hearing, and now that the case has been adjudicated, Investigation Discovery has been in touch about producing an episode of On the Case with Paula Zahn. Stay tuned for that.

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11 thoughts on “Stefanie Watson Case: Walsh Sentenced

  1. Patti Pfister Shovlin says:

    Finally some closer for the family. I will never forget when this happened.

  2. Jan Perillo says:

    Thank you, Richard, for the great recap video for today’s events at the courthouse for the Stephanie Watson murder sentencing. So thorough. Thank you again for all of your hard work and perseverance in this case. I lived in Laurel when the crime was committed and wondered for years if it would ever be solved and closed with an actual conviction. You did that, Sir!!

  3. Mary Anne Beauchamp says:

    Great job, Richard. You truly brought this young & vital woman the justice she deserved. I feel sure her family will now be at peace. We thoroughly enjoyed your presentation last year, too.

  4. Jim Collins says:

    Thank you for following and reporting the case of Stefanie Watson. I was the Public Information Officer at Laurel Police Department when this incident occurred. The case was my first major crime and mass media event I had to release information . This case had police officers searching the area from where Stefanie car was recovered and seach for miles mainly on foot. The media everyday stayed on the incident, I would give periodically information concerning the case. The case occurred in the City of Laurel however once the part of the jawbone was recovered on Larchdale road it became a joint investigation with Prince George County Police. This case had stay in my mind since it occurred and I am so proud of the Prince George County Police for finally closing this case. I know the family is very grateful but to recover Stefanie’s remains would put a closure to this case. I again wish to thank and congratulate Prince Georges County and Laurel Police Department for working this cold case.

    • HII JIM, THIS IS LIBBY FORBES, WORKED CASHIER FOR LAUREL CAR WASH BACK THEN . HOW ARE YOU, SURE MISS THE GOOD TIMES THERE AND MY OLD BUDDY JIM HARRIS. LOL. HOPE ALL GOING WELL FOR YOU. AND GLAD THAT CASE IS SOLVED. I ALSO REMEMBER THE GIRL THAT DROWNED HER BABY GIRL IN THE POND THERE TOO.

      • Jim Collins says:

        Hi Libby, Stefanie Watson I thought would never be solved, hundreds of people interviewed ,many many hours the officers worked on this case. To finally the person responsible has been charged but there is still many questions I hope will be answered as where her body maybe, how did he and where did the attack occur. But to know he will never be released from incarceration is great but I believe incarceration is to good for this animal. I hope all is well with you and the good Ole days at LPD were great. Take care.

    • Richard Friend says:

      Jim, if you’re up for it, I’d love to meet one day for an interview with the Laurel History Boys (www.laurelhistory.com). I’m sure you’ve got countless incredible stories of your time with LPD and just of Laurel in general—it would be great to film that!

      ~ Rich

      • Jim Collins says:

        Rich, I would love to tell you of time with LPD and the City of Laurel over my 38 years. I have lived in Laurel for 53 years. Telling the changes over the years and stories not just Laurel Police but I’m also a member of Laurel Volunteer Fire Department for 44 years. I think it would be great to meet with you however it may have to wait until the last of April or first of may when I will have free time. Let me know a few dates you have in mind. Thanks Jim

      • Richard Friend says:

        That would be great, Jim! Thanks so much! Late April/early May should work perfectly—really, ANY Saturday or Sunday that’s convenient for you will work for us. You can email me at richard_friend@mac.com when your schedule opens up, and lunch will be on us. Looking forward to it!

      • Jim Collins says:

        Thanks Rich, I’ll be in touch.

  5. Sarah says:

    Fantastic update Richard – if you want other people to write to prison, am very happy to. Please let us know the address. Really well done!

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