Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

74-year-old Seminole woman charged in Illinois murder

SEMINOLE — A 74-year-old great-grandmother was arrested on a murder charge Monday in connection with a homicide in Illinois last year, authorities said.

Pinellas County sheriff's officials arrested Shirley J. Skinner as she exited Cristino's Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria in Clearwater with family members at about 5 p.m.

Skinner, who was living at 513 Skipper Lane in Lake Seminole Estates Mobile Home Park in Seminole, is charged with killing her adult granddaughter's estranged husband in Ashland, Ill., in November 2008. Officials said Skinner left Illinois after killing Steven Watkins, 32.

Pinellas deputies assisted Illinois authorities in arresting Skinner. At the time of her arrest, she was with three family members, including her granddaughter, Jennifer Watkins, 31, and Watkins' 2-year-old daughter, Sidney Watkins.

Jennifer and Steven Watkins were five months into in divorce proceedings when he was killed. The couple dated for a month before entering a marriage that lasted just over a year, said Penny Watkins, the victim's mother.

The shooting happened two days before Thanksgiving. Watkins was shot in the back of the head when he went to a home owned by Skinner to pick up his daughter for a court-ordered visit. A court hearing was scheduled for the next morning in which Steven Watkins was seeking full custody of the child, Penny Watkins said.

"All he wanted was to be a part of Sidney's life," said Watkins, 52, of Chandlerville, Ill. "Their biggest problem was that Jennifer did not want to share Sidney."

Watkins' death, which will be featured in a future segment of Dateline NBC, has prompted vigils in Chandlerville, where he lived. Supporters have also documented the case at

Jennifer Watkins could not be reached Monday night, nor could attorneys for her or Skinner. Skinner has no previous criminal history.

Capt. Scott Compton of the Illinois State Police said Skinner is scheduled for an extradition hearing this morning.

Lenny Cristino, owner of the restaurant where the arrest took place in the parking lot, said Skinner and her family sat down and had four entrees and finished with espresso, gelato and chocolate cake. He remembered one thing about the head of the table.

"She looked like a nice old lady," Cristino said.

74-year-old Seminole woman charged in Illinois murder 10/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 4:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.