Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder in the Heartland’ is a series that, in true ID fashion, relies on the collective viewpoint of ordinary individuals as they share the necessary details of a homicide case that turned their whole world upside down. It highlights how, sometimes, it takes not only the local police but also family members, neighbors, and area shop keepers to solve a crime. And its latest episode, ‘Mother of it All,’ chronicling the murder of Dianne Watts, her daughter, Jessica Watts, and Jessica’s friend, Chelsie Smith, is no different. Curious to know all the particulars about this matter? We’ve got you covered.
How Did Dianne Watts Die?
By all accounts, Delores “Dianne” Nunley Watts, a homemaker and a member of the Independent Baptist Church, was someone whom everyone adored. So, when it came to light that her untimely death was, in fact, a homicide, people could not believe it. On July 30, 1999, the McMinnville fire department in Warren County, Tennessee, was called to her burning home at Myers Lane after a neighbor spotted the rising flames. Unfortunately, inside, the authorities only found the remains of Dianne, 42, her 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and Jessica’s friend, 13-year-old Chelsie Smith, who was staying overnight for a sleepover.
An autopsy determined that Dianne had been beaten to death while the two girls suffered severe blunt-force trauma from taking hits from either a metal baseball bat or a torque wrench. The actual cause of death for the two girls, though, was smoke inhalation, meaning that they were alive when the house was set on fire. Firefighters also recovered the suspected murder weapons from near the bodies, in front door of the house, which led them and the local police officers to believe that the fire had been set as a cover-up for the three brutal slayings. After all, traces of gasoline were found over Jessica’s and Chelsie’s bodies as well.
Who Killed Dianne Watts?
The investigators quickly became suspicious of Dianne’s boyfriend, Raymond Douglas Myers, arresting him less than a week after the murders for his role in the matter. The authorities also took his family friend Johnny Lee Lewis, his mother Clementine Myers, and his brother Gary Myers into custody, charging them with criminal responsibility for the murders. They believed that the four of them plotted to have Dianne killed as she apparently found some evidence that pinpointed towards them engaging in illegal activities and was thinking about informing the cops. The two young girls were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Raymond’s estranged wife, along with several witnesses, also informed the police that the four of them had been talking about how Dianne was “running her mouth” and what exactly they would have to do to “shut her up.” Moreover, there was the physical evidence of Johnny purchasing five two-gallon jugs of gasoline the day before the killings and his confession of Clementine paying him $900 to set fire to the home. The investigators also discovered that before the murders, a lockbox that allegedly contained evidence of fraud on Gary’s behalf was stolen from him, which Clementine believed Dianne had taken. Thus, the plan to have her slain.
In the end, all four individuals indicted for the murders, arson, and conspiracy to commit murder in connection to the case of Dianne Watts, Jessica Watts, and Chelsie Smith were convicted. Raymond Douglas Myers was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated arson, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Johnny Lee Lewis, on the other hand, was convicted of second-degree murder and arson. Clementine and Gary Myers were both additionally found guilty of criminal responsibility for first-degree murder.