One can only shudder to think what kind of heinous murder scene ends in the dismemberment of a teenage victim. But that’s exactly what happened to Becky Watts, a pretty British teenager who suffered from what her family called “extreme shyness.” Her life ended in the most unthinkable way sometime between February 19—when she disappeared from her father and stepmother’s home in Bristol—and March 3, when parts of her cut up body were found hidden in a house in her neighborhood.
On Friday, Bristol police announced that six people stand accused of involvement in her murder and mutilation—including her 28-year-old stepbrother Nathan Matthews and his 21-year-old girlfriend Shauna Hoare Phillips.
Watts, 16, went missing from her home in Bristol on February 19. Her father Darren Goldsworthy and her stepmother Anjie Goldsworthy (Matthew’s mother) told police that her disappearance didn’t make sense, in part because she suffered from shyness to such an extent she avoided public transportation and even large stores because she didn’t want to have to mingle with strangers. They said she took her phone and laptop, but they found it odd that she didn’t take a phone charger, change of clothes or her beloved makeup.
For a full week, the family—including Watts’ stepbrother now accused of her murder—made pleas for her to come back, assuming she was still alive.
Police combed a large area with hundreds of volunteers going door to door to see if anyone had seen the missing teen. Watts’ father made public pleas asking her to send a signal if she was okay. He pled with her friends not to hide her if they were. He even wrote on his Facebook page that she wouldn’t get in trouble when she came back.
“Bex if you see this please come home were [sic] heart broken and we need you in our lives you won’t be told off and you can make as much mess as you want and I won’t say a word promise.”
Then, on March 3, police discovered Watts’ cut up body at the home of Karl Demetrius and Jaydene Parsons, who lived nearby. Both have been remanded in custody for their alleged role in the murder. Police also arrested Demetrius’ twin brother Donovan and a 23-year-old named James Ireland for either the murder or concealing the crime. A seventh person was briefly remanded but released without arrest.
According to the Bristol Post, Detective Superintendent Mike Courtiour told reporters that they were tipped off that Watts may be in the house where her body parts were ultimately found.
“The information suggested that Becky’s body had been cut up and a search at the new location resulted in the discovery of body parts,” he said. “Although formal identification procedures have not yet been completed, we have made Becky’s family aware of this discovery.”
Bristol police have not revealed any working theory on the case, but friends of the family reported to local media that there did not seem to be any apparent fissure among the step families. The Goldsworthys were married in 2013 and there are ample photos online showing what appears to be a united extended family. Neighborhood friends told Bristol reporters that Watts and Matthews apparently got along. We are at an utter loss to understand why anyone would want to hurt our beautiful Becky in such a brutal way,” said Watts’ biological mother Tania Watts.
Bail has not been extended to any of the suspects. Police say there are more than 1,200 pieces of evidence, including a car found near house where the body parts were discovered.
There is also no confirmation whether all of Watts’ body has been recovered. A preliminary hearing is set for April 2 with a full trial expected to begin in the fall. But even if more gruesome details emerge about how, exactly, Watts’ young life ended, nothing will ever explain why it happened.