FBI Says Dogs Killed Boy - Clearing Mom of Suspicion After 25 Years
Elizabeth Watkins is the mother who's lived for 25 years wrongly suspected of killing her own son. She was once even confronted by a suspicious detective.
Watkins told INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent, "He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'I think you killed your son.' And I looked straight back at him in the eye and I said, 'You...Think...Wrong.' "
In 1987, six-year-old Nicholas Loris was found dead in the woods near his home outside Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Nicholas' little body was found down in a ravine. A coroner would rule that he died as a result of being beaten and strangulated. And for reasons his mother still doesn't know to this day, she became the prime suspect.
"I was astounded. Anyone that knows me knows I would never, ever harm my child," said Watkins.
Watkins was never charged, but she lived for the next 25 years under a cloud of suspicion. She says she even lost custody of her other son Alex as a result.
Trent asked, "So Alex grew up thinking that you killed his brother?"
"Yes," replied Watkins.
Now, after more than two decades comes a shocking development. Detectives and FBI experts took another look at the cold case and came up with a very different conclusion about Nicholas's death.
"It was my decision that this was an accidental death due to a dog attack," said a detective.
That's right, a dog attack.
Investigators now say Nicholas was choked by his t-shirt as a marauding pack of dogs dragged him into the woods.
The coroner's original finding that the death was a homicide has now been officially reclassified as "due to a dog attack."
Watkins' attorney David Freedman said, "She was cleared, and cleared of this cloud that's been over her for 25 years."
The case reminds many of the famous movie A Cry In The Dark for which Meryl Streep received an Oscar® nomination. It was based on the true story of a mother in Australia who was falsely accused of murdering her child. She was exonerated when officials ruled the baby was actually killed by a wild dog, or dingo.
"I am finally and totally cleared of any wrongdoing in my son's death," said Watkins.
She is now reconciling with her surviving son, Alex, who realizes she is blameless.
Trent asked, "You have lived under a cloud of suspicion for a long time. What was that like?"
"I just tried to hold my head high and keep going, because I knew the truth," said Watkins.