MERIDEN — Police used surveillance video, witness accounts and phone records to charge Jason Watson with murder after an almost year long investigation into the death of his ex-girlfriend, according to an arrest warrant.
On Tuesday, police charged Watson, 39, with the murder of Perrie Mason, a Meriden mother of two boys. Watson, who has been incarcerated since August, was arraigned Wednesday in New Haven Superior Court. His bond was set at $3 million.
Mason’s remains were found at Watson’s place of work, a recycling center — Bayside Textiles in Waterbury — on Aug. 21, about a week after she was reported missing.
After placing Mason’s phone at the recycling center around the time she disappeared, police searched the property and noticed trails of black oily residue in the back. The residue led police to a wooded area, where black plastic garbage bags were found containing Mason’s charred remains, the warrant said.
The medical examiner ruled Mason’s death was caused by “homicidal violence” but the exact cause could not be determined due to the condition of the remains. The medical examiner believes Mason’s body was crushed before it was set on fire, the arrest warrant said.
Video surveillance from a business across the street from where Mason and Watson lived together, 645 W. Main St., showed Mason leaving her house around 2 a.m. on Aug. 17, a day before Watson first contacted police about her being missing. Her car was seen on video surveillance at Bayside Textiles about 20 minutes later, the warrant said.
Watson was observed in the building around the same time, appearing to be testing a large rolling cart’s ability to hold a person’s weight. The video surveillance ends after Watson is seen leaving the building and the system does not come back on until Aug. 20, the warrant said. Watson had access to the system and a DNA sample taken from its power adaptor matched his DNA.
Google records on Watson’s work phone matched surveillance video of him leaving BayState Textiles in Mason’s car, making a stop at Walmart in Wallingford and then returning to the recycling center between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 17, the warrant said.
Video surveillance and witnesses at Walmart indicate Watson purchased two bottles of lighter fluid, two rolls of plastic sheeting and a “Minnie Mouse” towel. A bottle of lighter fluid was later found by police in the dumpster at BayState Textiles and the towel was seized from Watson’s home.
Watson’s phone records also showed more than 25 Google searches for “how to poison a person” and texts from Mason to Watson begging him to leave her alone, the warrant said. ‘Love, light, beauty’
Vaopunimatagi "Vao" Horlback, Mason’s sister, has custody of her two boys and is living in Georgia.
“Although these charges will not bring Perrie back, the news that Mr. Watson will be held accountable for his crimes brings upon a tremendous sense of peace,” she said in a written statement. “We pray that my sister's killer is not only charged, but convicted.”
Horlback said the family will continue to keep Mason’s legacy alive by sharing stories of her “love, light, beauty and the overall impact she had on us all.”
Watson has been in custody since he was charged in connection with a domestic assault that occurred shortly before Mason went missing.
Another woman also accused Watson of pushing her out of a moving car in 2017.
Watson is scheduled to return to court on July 17.
During Wednesday’s arraignment, a judge outlined protective orders against Watson in relation to four minors.
“On review of the allegations obtained in arrest warrant outlining a homicide that was extraordinarily heinous and depraved in nature, he represents extreme danger to the community, he has had a significant and serious criminal history, I would ask that we keep the bond at $3 million,” the state prosecutor said during the arraignment.
Mason was born in Hawaii, where she lived most of her life, her father, DeVictor King Mason, told the Record-Journal last year. She moved to Meriden with her two sons to be with Watson, a longtime Meriden resident, about a year and half before her disappearance.
Mason owned her own eyelash business in Meriden and also worked as a court reporter for the state Judicial Branch.
Reporter Matthew Zabierek contributedto this story.