Cell towers used to track Dollar Tree suspects

JONESBORO, Ark. – Highly technical police work helped bring a third man to justice for kidnapping Loretta Pixler.

His probable cause affidavit is also showing exactly what police believe happened and why the charge is kidnapping – and not worse.

Rodney A. Watkins, 21, of West Memphis, (pictured above) was arrested Tuesday in the September robbery of the Dollar Tree store and the kidnapping of the assistant manager, Loretta “Lori” Pixler.


At 9:26 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, the assistant manager of Dollar Tree, Loretta “Lori” Pixler was kidnapped by at least three men, who took her in her car and followed in a silver Kia Rio.

Detectives scoured video surveillance footage along East Nettleton Avenue and Red Wolf Boulevard, tracking the Rio following Pixler’s car outside of town.

An abandoned vehicle was found in Poinsett County, five miles from the dead body of Pixler.

Detectives were able to track the cell phone numbers belonging to Rodney Watkins from the area where Pixler’s car drove away to the exact area that her body and car were later found, the probable cause affidavit said.

dscn3138During a recorded interview at Craighead County Detention Center, the affidavit says Watkins said he was picked up by Byron Ford and Dawaun Logan on the night in question with the intent to  commit the robbery. He said Ford drove the Rio, which he rode in, while Logan drove Pixler’s car. The three remained on the phone the entire time, making it possible for police to track their route using cellular towers. Watkins also told police he instructed Logan on how to get out of Jonesboro and picked him up on Highway 14, after Logan drove the car into the ditch.

Watkins claims Pixler was let out of the vehicle unharmed by Logan, near where her body was later found.

The entire goal of the evening was to steal the night deposit money from the Dollar Tree.

Watkins is charged with aggravated robbery and kidnapping, both class Y felonies which carry sentences of 10 to 40 years or life in prison. Bail was set by the District Court for defendant Watkins’ appearance in circuit court at $500,000, according to Detective Sgt. Brandon King.

He is being held in Craighead County Detention Center awaiting trial at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 30 at Craighead County Courthouse.

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