Murdered and left roadside along a snow-covered Interstate 80 off-ramp in Union County, Rebecca Landrith had tucked away inside her leather jacket what would be crucial evidence for investigators: The name, phone number and email address of her alleged killer.
Arrest papers filed against Tracy Ray Rollins Jr., 28, of Dallas, Texas, unveil details of an intricate and rapid investigation by Pennsylvania State Police and partner law enforcement agencies leading up to the suspect’s arrest Wednesday in Connecticut.
Those same details outline brutal murder allegations against Rollins. Investigators accuse him of repeatedly shooting Landrith inside the cab of his 2018 Volvo tractor-trailer. A combined 18 bullets were pulled from Landrith’s body during an autopsy including her head and neck, according to arrest papers. She suffered two gunshot wounds to her hand indicating she fought for her life, arrest papers state.
The identifying information found on a note with Landrith, 47, of Virginia, was coupled with fast food and gas station receipts discovered in her possession after her body was found by a PennDOT worker just before 7 a.m. Sunday at the Mile Run exit on Interstate 80 in West Buffalo Township. Police previously indicated the location was in White Deer Township.
Trooper Tyler Watson, state police at Milton, arrested and charged Rollins with criminal homicide and abuse of corpse, the latter charge being a misdemeanor. Charges are filed at the office of Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Mensch, Mifflinburg.
Rollins is currently held on $1 million bail at the Hartford Correctional Center in Connecticut where he awaits arraignment on charges related to his arrest.
The arrest papers detail how investigators used the paper evidence to track down and confirm Rollins’ identity. They matched dates and times on the receipts with surveillance footage at the locations in Wisconsin and Indiana showing a man fitting Rollins’ description in some locations and placing both he and Landrith together in Wisconsin and Ohio, arrest papers state.
A warrant authorized by Union County President Judge Michael Hudock allowed access to telecommunications data from the cell phone number found in Landrith’s pocket that investigators said belongs to Rollins. The location data matched information from the receipts and surveillance footage and provided additional leads as to where the pair had traveled leading up to Landrith’s murder and the route Rollins allegedly took after she was killed, according to arrest papers.
According to arrest papers, Rollins was in the area of the Mile Run exit where Landrith’s body was discovered for 15 minutes Sunday, from 12:11 a.m. through 12:26 a.m. Police said he then drove east to Pittston before traveling north to Maine where he stayed the night Monday at a truck stop.
On Tuesday in Woodland, Maine, police said Rollins picked up a load for delivery from a paper mill and wrote his name on a COVID-19 questionnaire. That same day, Milford Police in Connecticut shared that Landrith’s 2007 Honda Civic, which had South Dakota plates, was towed from a CITGO gas station there four days prior. The gas station owner reported it as having been abandoned several days, arrest papers state.
Investigators followed up with employees of a Pilot Travel Center next to the CITGO who recognized Landrith and said she frequented the truck stop often with truck drivers, according to arrest papers.
PennLive reported that Landrith had once worked in New York City as a fashion model.
Members of the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Unit located Rollins’ truck at a TA Travel Center in Milldale, Connecticut, Wednesday morning. Rollins was spotted behind the wheel and as he drove away, a traffic stop was initiated and Rollins was detained for questioning.
Even before getting a warrant to search inside the vehicle, investigators said a cleaning solution could be seen clearly from outside the truck covering portions of the passenger seat and the floor below, arrest papers state.
According to arrest papers, troopers read Rollins his Miranda rights and he agreed to be interviewed. Investigators said he denied knowing Landrith’s name and denied recognizing her face when shown a photo. However, he said he’d been traveling with a woman named “Leslie” whose car broke down at a truck stop in Connecticut.
Police discovered that Landrith booked a hotel in Milford, Connecticut, in December under the name “Leslie Myers,” arrest papers state.
Rollins confirmed he and “Leslie” traveled through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, arrest papers state, stopping at varied travel plazas along the way.
“When asking Rollins information pertaining to his travels, Rollins stated ‘I hate to start lying to you because this is a murder investigation.’ It should be noted that at no time during the interview leading up to this statement was Rollins advised nor presented any information that this was a murder investigation,” Watson wrote in the criminal affidavit filed with Rollins’ arrest papers.
A search warrant for Rollins’ truck was obtained. The Major Crimes Squad of the Connecticut State Police searched the vehicle and, according to arrest papers, discovered blood and related human evidence that someone had been shot and killed. The troopers also found six spent shell casings from a 9mm handgun and multiple bullet strikes inside the truck cab, plus human matter on the top stair outside the passenger-side door.
“The location of these bullet strikes indicates that the rounds were discharged from within the cab of the truck,” arrest papers state.
When Landrith was found along the interstate in Union County, she had on clothes but was without shoes or socks. She laid on her back along the shoulder of the off-ramp. A black fur-lined hat soaked in blood laid nearby, police said.
No one could be certain at the time what had happened or how her body ended up there but clues inside her leather jacket would soon allow police to piece together allegations against her accused killer.
Rollins remains in police custody. He’s awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.