Air Force veteran dies after protecting wife from attacker: death resulted from natural causes

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Mrs. Della Watts says it's a day she'll never forget and there's only one way to describe the teenager who attacked her.

"That boy has a black heart and he was a raving maniac," she said. "He stomped us unmercifully."

Saturday, she will lay her husband of 59 years, Willie Watts Jr., to rest after a 16-year-old boy brutally attacked them outside their home back in February.

"He grabbed my cane, knocked me over my head, knocked me down and wanted to know where was my money and he kept kicking me and beating me," she said. "And there he called us again and my husband just covered my body and my face to keep me from getting hit anymore and he stomped and he beat and he stomped and he beat."

That night, police arrested the teen as he hid in a house across the street and charged him with felonious assault.

Mrs. Watts says her husband was hospitalized with five broken bones in his face, a broken nose and a concussion. She says he was already ill and the beating took a toll on him.

"He just didn't, he just didn't bounce back," she said.

The 81-year old Air Force veteran died last Thursday, seven weeks after the attack. He had complications with his heart.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office conducted an autopsy and reported that Watts died from natural causes.

The examiner's officer released the following statement Friday after making the determination:

"The Medical Examiner's Office has concluded its investigation into the death of Mr. Willie Watts and determined that he died of natural causes. While I deplore the acts of violence committed against an elderly man and his wife, it is not medically indicated to state that these caused or significantly contributed to Mr Watts' passing. Our Office extends its sincerest condolences to Mr Watts' family."

"I fault him. he made a choice doing what he's doing. He had crime sprees across the city. Why should he be able to walk out on the streets again, I fault him," she said.

Now Mrs. Watts is preparing to bury her husband. With the help of her children, grandchildren and church family, she's still standing. She says that with God, she'll move forward.

"That's the only way I'll be able to survive because I'm afraid," she said.

And she misses her husband so.

"The laughter, the jokes, he talked in riddles to tell me different things. It was just him," she said.

Funeral services for Willie will be Saturday April 7.

The wake is at 9 a.m. and the funeral is at 10am. Services will be held at East Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 9990 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.

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