Nashville, TN — An 85-year-old grandfather admitted to fatally shooting his adult grandson Monday.
John Watkins’ wife called police around 6 am to report that her husband had shot their live-in grandson, 30-year-old Ben Phillips.
Phillips was found dead in his bedroom from a gunshot wound to the head.
Watkins admitted that he shot Phillips while he was sleeping. Detective Johnny Crumby said Watkins complained that his grandson had made several threats against him and his wife.
“(Watkins) stated he was scared and threatened by the victim, and that he felt he had no choice but to kill the victim as he slept,” the arrest warrant said. “(Watkins) further stated he did not feel sorry for what he had done.”
Joann Scaife, president of the homeowners association, said Watkins and his wife always came to meetings. Last year, the couple headed the neighborhood’s Night Out Against Crime event.
“We wanted to keep the neighborhood peaceful,” she said. “People are shocked right now.”
Investigators believe that a medical condition may be to blame for the murder. Police said Watkins was taking medication for memory loss, and that dementia may have caused him to shoot his grandson.
“There had been some prior issues going on between him and the grandson, and maybe the memory loss made him think it was recent,” Metro police Lt. John Drake said.
Dr. James Powers, a geriatrician at Vanderbilt University, said the warning signs of dementia can include a short temper and aggression. While only 5 percent of dementia patients shows signs of depression and agitation, those people can be dangerous.
“We need to look for the warning signs. We need to be aware that people have a tendency of this type of behavior,” Powers said.
John Watkins has been charged with criminal homicide and is being held on $100,000 bond. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.