Hitman in murder of former Panther’s girlfriend dies behind bars

CHARLOTTE — New information has surfaced about a murder case that has gripped the Queen City community for over two decades.

The triggerman in a plot to kill of girlfriend of former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth has died. Van Brett Watkins was sentenced to more than 50 years behind bars for shooting and killing Cherica Adams.

Adams was pregnant with Carruth’s child in 1999 when he plotted to have her killed. She died -- but their child, Chancellor Adams survived the shooting.

Watkins passed away in prison last Sunday. Officials confirmed that he died of natural causes.

Veteran crime reporter Glenn Counts was able to catch up with Saundra Adams, Cherica’s mother, who was surprised to hear of Watkins’ passing.

“It’s no coincidence that to me he passed away 24 years ago in December after he took my daughter’s life, and that Chancellor is now 24 years old,” Saundra Adams said.

In an interview with Jim Bradley after his conviction, Watkins expressed remorse and shared that he thinks about Chancellor and Saundra nearly every day.

“Every day I think of Mrs. Adams, every day I think of the Chancellor, and every day I think of Cherica Adams and the wrong that I did,” Watkins said.

Saundra Adams believes that Watkins was sincere and told Counts that over the past year, he had reached out to her, asking her to come visit him.

“He sent me the visitation papers, and I really prayed about it, and I decided against it,” Saundra Adams said. “I thought I had a lot of questions to ask him, but none of the questions are going to bring my daughter back.”

(WATCH BELOW: Rae Carruth sends son money after being released from prison)

Susannah Will, wsoctv.com

Susannah is a content center producer for WSOC.

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