Man Charged with Murder in Death of San Diego Angel Investor

7/21/10Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego authorities are adding a murder charge to the case against a 59-year-old man who was jailed last month on identity theft charges, which stemmed from the illegal transfer of $7.5 million from the account of a biotech investor who was found dead June 8.

Kent Thomas Keigwin will be arraigned for murder tomorrow in connection with the death of John G. Watson, a retired life sciences executive and San Diego Tech Coast Angels board member, according to Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County District Attorney.

Keigwin was charged last month with financial fraud, and his bail was set at $2.5 million. Authorities allege that Keigwin was posing as Watson when he moved $7.5 million from a Deutsche Bank account into another stock trading account. Since then, the San Diego County Medical Examiner determined that Watson, who was 65, was strangled to death, according to a statement issued today by Lt. Ernie Herbert of the police homicide unit.

Steve Flaim, the current president of the San Diego Tech Coast Angels, says the group is “pleased that the San Diego police have proceeded far enough on the John Watson homicide investigation to be able to press charges and we hope that this case is solved with a conviction of the guilty party as soon as possible.”

Watson, who was born and raised in England, was a retired pharmaceutical industry and biotech CEO. He had spent much of his career at big pharma companies like Johnson & Johnson and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and arrived in San Diego about six years ago to head Ionian Technologies, a local life sciences company. After retiring, Watson joined the angel investor group in 2008.

Two of Watson’s friends and fellow angel investors discovered his body in his residential apartment on Camino del Oro in La Jolla after he failed to appear for the San Diego Tech Coast Angels’ regular monthly meeting on June 8. Watson, who was 65, was active in the group, which mentors entrepreneurs and invests in local startup technology companies. He also was active with Connect, the San Diego nonprofit program for technology and entrepreneurship.

Police investigators arrested Keigwin early in the morning of June 11, when he showed up at Watson’s door with Watson’s laptop computer and other personal belongings. Police investigators, who were in Watson’s home searching for evidence, already knew that someone posing as Watson had drained $7.5 million from Watson’s account.

Keigwin had been representing himself as a financial advisor to the “entrepreneur and investor community” in San Diego, according to authorities.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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