An alleged murder-for-hire plot over a family estate valued at up to $20 million has landed one brother in a Florida jail and left his younger brother stunned and on edge at his James Island home.
Jim Roy Watkins Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was arrested last week, accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill his younger brother -- James Island resident Steven Watkins -- at a time when they were fighting over their parents' estate.
"I think you have a little bit of greed here," said Sgt. Frank Sousa of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, which had been investigating the plot for some time. "Somebody around here said it's like a Cain and Abel story."
The elder Watkins was arrested Friday and charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder. The 59-year-old is being held without bond in Broward County.
Details of the alleged plot came "from a reliable and credible witness," the department said in a press release, "that Jim had engaged in discussions to have his brother killed."
Jim Watkins reportedly agreed to pay $20,000 in advance of the killing, and pledged to pay an additional $60,000 to $80,000 after the hit was carried out, the release said.
Among the evidence police say they collected are recorded tapes and a packet given to an alleged "hit man" in December that contained pictures of the victim, the victim's house and the victim's vehicle. Additionally, the packet contained a piece of paper detailing the victim's address and a brochure for a Charleston-area hotel.
No other arrests are expected, Sousa said, though the investigation remains open.
In an interview Wednesday with The Post and Courier, Steven Watkins, 53, confirmed he and his brother were in a legal dispute over the estate and that he learned of the alleged plot Jan. 12.
"Somebody knocked on my door last Wednesday. It was the Fort Lauderdale police," he said inside the modest, brick ranch home he and his brother grew up in on James Island.
The police suggested he might do well to lay low. "I had to leave town for a while," he said.
The brothers are six years apart and weren't terribly close growing up. "He's always been kind of controlling," Steven Watkins said.
While the two brothers are the sole heirs of their parents' multimillion dollar estate, Steven Watkins said he grew up never suspecting his parents were rich, and that they certainly didn't live that way.