Search Warrants Show Cairo Bank Robber May Have Had Help

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By Stephanie Tyrpak

ALEXANDER CO. -- Court documents released this week reveal stunning new information about the May attack at Cairo's First National Bank.

James Nathaniel Watts, 30, is charged with attempted bank robbery resulting in death. He's pleaded not guilty. 
 
The search warrants unsealed by a judge suggest Watts may have had some help.
 
The sixteen pages raise new questions about what happened before and after the brutal attack on May 15. Watts is accused of killing Anita Grace and Nita Smith; a third woman was critically injured.
 
According to the warrant, Watts pushes the women into the employee lounge at Cairo's First National Bank around 5:15 that evening. He then attacks them with a knife.
     
An FBI agent writes that the surviving victim hears Watts talking to another person using a walkie-talkie. Bank surveillance video also shows that activity. 
 
Watts takes off in a stolen SUV after the attack. He travels to Missouri, and police spot the vehicle. That leads to high-speed chase back to Cairo.
     
Watts then climbs onto the train trestle over the Ohio River and begins a standoff. He was allowed to call his mother and tells her, "I killed that woman."
 
Around 9 p.m., Watts is finally arrested. Police find a gun on him, along with a cell phone and a bag on the bridge.
 
They seize that phone, and it leads investigators to several other cell phones.
 
The documents explain Watts was texting with two other people before the attack about the location of a gun and ammunition.
 
Police also find a walkie-talkie in the stolen SUV. They traced it back to the Walmart in Cape Girardeau. Surveillence video there shows Watts and a woman buying radios and a cell phone on the morning of the crime.
 
Investigators later go to the home of a second man. They discover the walkie-talkie charger and a third phone stuffed between seats of a car.
 
The search warrant asks that cell carriers turn over the voice logs and messages for the phones.
 
If Watts is convicted, he will face life in prison or the death penalty. News 3 has not heard back from the U.S. Attorney's Office as to whether other people could face charges in this case.
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