Skip to main content
Press Release

Cairo Man Pleads Guilty to Assisting in the 2014 Attempted Armed Robbery of First National Bank in Cairo and Other Related Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois


Otha Don Watkins, III, 35, of Cairo, Illinois, pled guilty today in United States District Court in Benton to assisting James Nathanial Watts in the May 15, 2014, attempted armed robbery of the First National Bank in Cairo, announced Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. During that attempted robbery, long-time bank employees Anita Grace and Nita Jo Smith were killed and a third employee was seriously injured.

In addition to that crime, Watkins also pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI during the investigation of the attempted bank robbery, possessing a stolen firearm, and conspiring with Watts to commit robberies that interfered with interstate commerce. That conspiracy included both the attempted robbery of the First National Bank and the successful May 2014 armed robbery of over $12,000 from a McDonald’s restaurant in Charleston, Missouri.

James Watts previously pled guilty to the attempted bank robbery and was sentenced in May 2017 to life in prison plus 10 years.

Sentencing for Watkins was set for March 21, 2018. Watkins is already serving a 155 month federal prison sentence relating to the armed robbery of another McDonald’s restaurant in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in October 2014. Watkins was returned to the custody of the United States Marshal to await sentencing in this case.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois State Police with the assistance of numerous other law enforcement agencies in Illinois and Missouri.

Updated January 23, 2018

Violent Crime