Bank president killed in Cairo reported Watts to police in 2009

Bank president killed in Cairo reported Watts to police in 2009

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - The Cairo Police Department confirms a link between one of the victims of a deadly stabbing in Cairo and the suspect.

On July 14, 2009, Anita Grace, branch president at First National Bank, filed a police report about James Watts saying he had tried to cash 11 checks at First National Bank in Cairo.

According to the police report, those checks were stolen from a man who banked at Meredosia Community Bank. The checks totaled $2000 and were paid to the order of James Watch from May 26, 2009 to June 30, 2009.

James Nathaniel Watts, 29, is being held on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Anita J. Grace, 52, of Olive Branch, Ill., and Nita J. Smith, 52, of Wickliffe, Ky. were killed after they were stabbed at the bank on May 15.

A 23-year-old employee was also stabbed. She was in critical condition. As of late Sunday afternoon, she was released from the hospital. Her identity has not been released.

According to the United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton Southern District of Illinois, Watts was arrested on a railroad train trestle in Cairo after a high speed chase with police. Watts was driving a 2014 Buick SUV that belonged to an employee of the First National Bank. According to the criminal complaint, Watts had a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

According to Illinois State Police, a man wearing dark clothing and a hoodie entered the bank armed with a knife and a handgun just after 5 p.m. on Thursday.

According to the affidavit, a black male approached three female employees of the First National Bank in Cairo as they left the bank after closing. The man forced the three employees back into the bank in an attempt to rob it, according to the affidavit. Surveillance video shows the man with a firearm.

The man did not get any money. Surveillance video shows the man taking the purses of the three employees, putting them in one of the employee's vehicles and leaving the bank parking lot in that employee's vehicle. Two of the employees were killed and one was critically injured during that time.

Around 6:55 p.m., an officer spotted the employee's vehicle driven by a black male. When the officer began to follow it, the man led police on a chase reaching speeds more than 100 miles per hour. The chase ended near a railroad train trestle that spans the Ohio River near Cairo.

The man got out of the vehicle and ran to the trestle and tried to hide himself in the trestle.

Around 9 p.m., police arrested Watts and found the pistol in the front pocket of the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing.

Watts was convicted of two counts of forgery in Cape Girardeau County on May 15, 2005, according to the affidavit. Watts was sentenced to seven years in prison. On August 31, 2007, his probation was revoked and the seven year sentence was imposed.

Watts just got out of prison less than a month before the deadly attack. He was released on April 29 from an Illinois correctional facility, according to Vinelink.

Watts has also been convicted of forgery in Illinois and served time for that conviction.

Watt is a registered sex offender in Illinois. According to the sex offender registry, at the time of the crime Watts was 22 and the victim 11 years old.

He was found driving the vehicle of one of the victims in a violent stabbing at First National Bank in Cairo on May 15.

First National Bank Branch President Anita Grace was laid to rest in Olive Branch on May 20.

Nita Smith will be laid to rest on May 21 in Wickliffe, Kentucky.

In a detention hearing on May 20, the judge ruled that based on evidence in the case, and Watts' prior convictions that he poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk. The judge denied Watts bond.

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