NA Members Alan Wood and Tonia Watson had been in and out of the judicial system for years. They had several parole violations and should not have been on the loose when they killed 80 year old Nancy Dailey.
They attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings together. But they continued to use drugs, Michigan Department of Corrections records show.
2 accused in murder of 80-year-old Royal Oak woman should have been behind bars
Two parole agents have been suspended as the Michigan Department of Corrections investigates why they allowed a pair of parolees suspected of committing new crimes — and now accused of murder — to remain free last fall, the MDOC confirmed Monday.
A Free Press review of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and law enforcement sources shows the two agents supervising Alan Wood, 48, and Tonia Watson, 40, passed up numerous opportunities to return the pair to prison — even as they repeatedly violated parole and became suspects in three police investigations. MDOC supervisors signed off on those decisions.
Weeks later, Nancy Dailey, 80, was killed in her Royal Oak home, her hands bound and her throat slit. Wood and Watson are charged with first-degree murder in her death.
A month before the Nov. 20 slaying, corrections officials cited Wood for three parole violations, but then turned him loose. Records also show agents knew Wood and Watson were suspects in the thefts of a gun from a Berkley home and credit cards from a Royal Oak home.
Yet they remained free.
MDOC officials, in announcing their investigation in an e-mail to the Free Press, said: “The Michigan Department of Corrections was deeply saddened and outraged at the brutal, senseless murder of Nancy Dailey in her own home. It was a tragic event beyond measure. And the fact that offenders under our supervision have been charged with the murder troubles us greatly.
“We are investigating all the circumstances surrounding the supervision of parolees Wood and Watson. The investigation is ongoing at this time.”
Royal Oak slaying: Warnings, suspicions didn’t stop tragedy
Alan Wood and Tonia Watson are no strangers to police, prosecutors or parole officers.
Both are drug addicts with criminal histories dating back decades.
Wood is a convicted sex offender and arsonist who was first arrested at age 17. He has spent much of his adult life in prison.
Watson has 10 felony convictions in Michigan and Tennessee, including ones for weapons and car theft. She once escaped from prison.
Both were using heroin last fall when, police say, they killed an 80-year-old Royal Oak woman in her home.
Records obtained by the Free Press show that in the weeks leading up to the homicide, two parole agents — now suspended and under investigation — didn’t return the pair to prison despite parole violations and police investigations of new crimes.
The Free Press reported in December that Wood and Watson were under investigation by at least two police agencies in the weeks before Nancy Dailey was killed. But newly released Michigan Department of Corrections records show Berkley police also were investigating them for the theft of a gun around that time, and contacted MDOC to try to locate Wood.
MDOC spokesman John Cordell said an internal investigation is under way to determine whether any work rules or department policies were violated regarding the supervision of Wood and Watson.
He confirmed that two employees were suspended with pay while the investigation is being conducted.
“If the investigation determines there is any violation of work rules and/or department policies, disciplinary action will be applied appropriately,” Cordell said Monday in an e-mail to the Free Press, declining further comment.
It’s unclear when Wood and Watson first hooked up. Both were paroled in 2010 — he for home invasion as a habitual offender and she for felony firearms, receiving stolen property and being a habitual offender. They were prohibited from associating with known felons. But by last June, they were living together.
Watson absconded from parole in April and was found in June. Her parole officer, upon discovering she was living with Wood, cited her for two violations: absconding and associating with a known felon, records show.
In admitting to the violations, Watson wrote a statement on June 23: “I’m sorry for not doing the right thing. I’ve messed up my life again.”
She was briefly jailed and then reunited with Wood.
Wood, who also had a history of breaking into the homes of seniors, was prohibited from working for elderly or disabled people as a condition of his parole. But almost immediately after his release from prison in September 2010, records indicate he began work for an agency in metro Detroit, providing home health care to disabled people.
MDOC records show his parole officer was aware of his job and even approved it, putting his time cards into his file to verify his employment. According to those records, he was in the homes of numerous disabled people from October 2010 through April 2011, performing household chores and assisting in personal hygiene such as bathing and using the bathroom.
The MDOC, citing its ongoing investigation, declined to answer questions about why Wood was allowed to participate in work that appears to violate his parole. The agency also declined to provide the name of the home health care agency.
Incidents stack up
By the fall of 2011, Wood and Watson were roaming communities in south Oakland County, soliciting homeowners for yardwork and household chores.
According to records, Wood approached a family shopping at a Home Depot in September and offered to help with a project in their home. They allowed him into the house; it’s unclear whether Watson was there.
After Wood left on Sept. 22, the family discovered a handgun and other items were missing and reported the thefts to Berkley police. They named Wood as the likely thief, and Berkley investigators began trying to find him.
Around the same time, a pair of disabled women in Royal Oak hired Wood and Watson for yardwork and eventually invited them into their home. The women soon discovered their credit cards were missing and contacted police on Oct. 12. They identified Wood and Watson using the stolen credit cards on a surveillance tape that police showed them at a Meijer store in Auburn Hills, the women told the Free Press in a prior interview.
On Oct. 20, Wood met with his parole officer in the MDOC’s Pontiac office and admitted he was in the women’s home and performed work for them. He also admitted he was associating with Watson.
Wood, who also was questioned by a Royal Oak police officer during the meeting, denied stealing the cards. His parole officer cited him for three parole violations — two for providing services to the disabled women and one for associating with a known felon. The parole officer decided to allow him back into the community until she could further investigate the credit card theft and told him to return in a few days, records show. She never saw him again.
The next day, Oct. 21, Berkley police contacted Wood’s parole officer to say Wood was a suspect in the gun theft and was refusing to meet with detectives. But the agent didn’t seek an absconder’s warrant — which would have listed him as wanted in the Law Enforcement Information Network — until Oct. 28.
Warnings don’t work
Watson met with her parole officer Nov. 1 and was questioned about where she was living. Her parole officer — as Wood’s parole officer had done — warned her that she was a suspect in criminal activity, and there was a possibility that “criminal charges are forthcoming,” records show.
The parole officer ordered Watson not to have contact with Wood, to provide additional information the next day about where she was living and to report back in person Nov. 8. Watson left a phone message the next day, saying she was living “from pillar to post,” records show. The agent couldn’t reach her and noted in her records she had “no idea” where Watson was living.
Watson didn’t show for the Nov. 8 meeting, and her parole officer sought an absconder warrant on Nov. 14.
Six days later, police say, Nancy Dailey was murdered.
Wood and Watson are accused of entering her home and demanding her valuables, including her ATM card. Dailey was crying and upset, according to statements Watson gave police.
In the moments before Wood dragged Dailey down the hallway by her hair and slit her throat, police say, the 80-year-old woman — who had hired the pair to do yardwork — turned to her attackers and said, “I tried to help you, you dirty birds,” according to testimony.