Danielle was the night manager at The Flying Biscuit Café located at Stonecrest Shopping Center, in South Charlotte. As you enter the Chick-Fil-A and circle the building you drive over the crime scene and past the dumpster where Danelle took her last breath.
On the night of Saturday January 14, 2012 Watson's fiancé received a phone call that led him to believe she was in trouble. He tried to get back in touch with her. He couldn't reach her, and wasn't able to go check on her himself because Watson had their car at work.
So he called 911. He told the dispatcher the name and address of the restaurant where Danielle worked, but the dispatcher misunderstood. Because on this error a CMPD officer was dispatched to an empty house four miles further down Rea Road, to a place called "Plum Biscuits", which doesn't exist. That mix-up led to a delay in police response. It would be several hours before CMPD Officers put the pieces together.
Watson's fiancé said the dispatcher did not call him back to say nothing was found. CMPD later said it was a mistake for the dispatcher not to clarify the information. Policy now requires all dispatchers to repeat back the address.
On the morning of January 15, 2012, officers were called to the Flying Biscuit at 6:24 a.m., according to a search warrant. An employee told officers the business was open, and money was missing from an unlocked safe. When officers entered the restaurant, they found blood inside the building. Nearly two-and-a-half hours later while officers were still processing the crime scene at the restaurant, an employee with Allied Waste Company told officers that he had found a woman's body behind the Chick-Fil-A dumpster in the parking lot adjacent to the Flying Biscuit.
Officers say the woman was identified as Watson. According to a warrant, officers determined that Watson was supposed to be closing the restaurant with Mark Cox the previous night.
It was later determined that at some point just after closing, Cox confronted Watson, then attacked her, she fled out the back door of the restaurant and ran towards Chick-Fil-A for help with Cox in pursuit attacking her.
When officers arrived at the home the Cox shared with family members, they saw "a blood trail leading to the residence, as well as blood on the front door," the warrant states.
A person who lived in the home allowed officers into the home, the warrant says, where officers saw "a large amount of apparent blood on the kitchen counter, as well as throughout the residence." The officers also found a large butcher knife in a mug filled with an unknown liquid on the kitchen, according to the warrant.
Officers spoke to Chelsea Amanda Cox, Mark's sister, who told officers that Cox had come to the home around 10:50 p.m. Saturday and said he needed to talk to her. According to the warrant, Cox confessed to his sister that he had stabbed Watson multiple times during an argument and had dumped her body in a dumpster.
Chelsea Cox also told officers that she found a white plastic trash bag in her closet, with Mark Cox's work uniform, which was soaked in blood. Cox reportedly told his sister that he had taken Watson's vehicle and was planning to dump the bloody clothes and the vehicle in a river, the warrant states.
Police spoke to another employee of the Flying Biscuit who told officers that Cox had come to his home around 11 p.m. Saturday night.
The employee told officers that Cox had "an unknown amount of money on his lap when he arrived," the warrant states. Officers showed the employee a picture of Watson's vehicle, which the employee identified as the vehicle Cox was driving.
Cox's sister, despite seeing bloody clothing at their family home and knowing about Danielle Watson's stolen car, apparently did not call police. Legally, there was no obligation for the family to call police, even after hearing his confession and seeing the bloody evidence.
Meanwhile, Cox fled Charlotte. He was arrested a couple days later in the Fayetteville-area.
But the failure of CMPD and the criminal justice system goes further than just dispatch and Officers who failed to understand the area.
In a plea agreement Mark Anthony Cox, then 23, was sentenced to two life sentences for the double murder of Danielle Watson and her unborn child. The agreement allowed him to avoid the death penalty.
Cox was the first person to be charged under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in North Carolina. The law went into effect a few weeks before the murders. It allows prosecutors to charge an offender with murder of a fetus, even if the offender (or victim) didn't know about the pregnancy.
When Watson was stabbed and killed January 14, 2012 she was the manager of the Flying Biscuit restaurant at Stonecrest Shopping Center. She was two months pregnant.
At trial CMPD Officers stated that Watson was stabbed several times with a butcher knife, and her body left near a dumpster outside. In court, Cox offered no explanation or apology to Watson's family.
Her mother, Denise Watson, and Danielle's fiancé both spoke to the court and addressed Cox. Fiancé Keith Smith said, "Memories are all I have left of Danielle and I am blessed to have them." However, he went on to say Cox denied him the gift of raising a child with her and he hopes Cox feels a deep pain the rest of his life. "This coward has committed the ultimate trespass," said Smith. He said one day, he might be able to forgive, but probably not in this lifetime.
Denise Watson spoke told the court how they always tried to protect and keep Danielle safe from the moment she was born, but they could not help the night she was working with Cox.
"We are all trying to understand how and why she crossed paths with this evil person, Mark Cox," said Denise Watson.
Cox was hired to work in the kitchen a month prior to the attack.
A long history of violent crimes
Mark Cox had just finished serving three years in prison. His past convictions included robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony breaking and entering, and larceny after breaking and entering. Additional arrests include, resisting, ADWIKISI and stalking.
In 2008, Cox was 18 and working in the kitchen of a Sonic restaurant in eastern North Carolina. Police there said Cox and some co-conspirators planned to rob the restaurant. Workers were held at gunpoint while the robber demanded thousands of dollars. For that 2008 incident, Cox was given a three-year-suspended prison, and probation.
His prison time was activated after he broke probation and committed another violent crime.
That time, police said Cox broke into the home of a man who was trying to help him. The man had recently asked Cox to move out, and investigators say Cox responded by breaking into the man's home and attacking him.
Justice System Breakdown
Just a few short weeks after Cox was released from prison, he was hired at the Flying Biscuit.
The next month, Danielle Watson was dead.
During the investigation, the owner of the Flying Biscuit was asked about hiring Cox. Owner Hugh Bigham gave a statement, saying "During the short time Mark Cox was employed by the Flying Biscuit Café he performed his responsibilities accordingly and was trusted by his co-workers."
During the Flying Biscuit interview process, Cox acknowledged he had a previous conviction. He was given a chance and initially hired on a trial basis.
But even with the extent of Mark Cox's criminal past unclear, he was hired anyway.
The background check conducted by Bigham's company was basically non-existent.
Despite the ability to check online records, sources stated that Cox was just taken at his word that his crimes were not serious. There is no record that the Probation Officer assigned to Cox ever contacted The Flying Biscuit Café or had any contact with Cox post release. Cox apparently failed to inform his PO of his relocation to Charlotte. Mecklenburg County Law Enforcement has no record of interaction with Cox prior to his murder arrest. His post release supervision was scheduled to end in October of 2012.
The judge in the original robbery case was not allowed to consider Cox's extensive sealed juvenile record. But it is doubtful the judge or any judge for that matter would impose a more harsh sentence given the pro criminals justice system that was in effect then and even more so today.
Today The Flying Biscuit is still in operation.
Cox is currently being held at the Tabor Correctional Institution Medium Security Prison, in Eastern North Carolina. His record includes 42 violations including fighting, sex acts and drugs, weapons and theft. Despite his infractions he is housed in a medium security facility that is considered rather "sweet" compared to other prisons within the NC Department of Corrections.
The system remains broken. Today thanks to population growth, COVID and the defund the police movement, the number of felony cases for violent crimes in North Carolina has created a three year backlog requiring Distract Attorneys to dismiss 2/3rds of the cases brought to them.
The catch and release no bail system allows violent felons to return to the streets within hours of arrest. Case in point Demont Forte.
The number of crimes committed by members of the African American community is disproportional to the population at a 5-1 ratio. Yet the liberal masses refuse to address the fact that "The African American Community has become a culture of violence embracing criminality and gun play". Instead of addressing this core issue, they dismiss this charge as racism and white privilege.
Unless we address this level of criminality with mass incarceration and long prison terms for violent crimes, the Danielle Watson story will continue to be repeated again and again.