UNION COUNTY, Pa. — A Texas truck driver has been charged in connection with the killing of a former model whose body was found riddled with bullets along the side of a Pennsylvania interstate Sunday morning.
The body of Rebecca Landrith, 47, was found along an eastbound Interstate 80 interchange ramp in West Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania state troopers said. PennLive.com reported that an autopsy showed that the Virginia native was shot multiple times in the head, neck and throat.
The medical examiner found 18 bullets in Landrith’s body. Her injuries included two defensive wounds to her hand, indicating she fought back, court documents allege.
Tracy Ray Rollins Jr., 28, of Dallas, was charged Wednesday with criminal homicide and abuse of a corpse, according to court records. Authorities said he was arrested in Hartford County by Connecticut state troopers, with the assistance of Pennsylvania troopers working the case.
Landrith, who PennLive.com described as an accomplished violinist with a heart for charitable organizations, had been a model in New York City. She was also a finalist in 2014 for the title of Miss Manhattan.
Watch an interview with Rebecca Landrith from March 2014, when she attended the 3rd Annual Winter Film Awards.
She was the youngest of five children. Her brother, George Landrith, said in a statement that the family was relieved his sister’s alleged killer was caught, but that it does not ease the loss.
“Her family loved her dearly,” Landrith said. “None of this brings her back. It is important she receives justice.”
Court records obtained by multiple news agencies, including the Sunbury Daily Item, detailed the brutal crime and the investigation by Connecticut troopers, who followed a paper trail — including a vital slip of paper in her jacket — from Rebecca Landrith’s body to their suspect.
A grisly discovery
Rebecca Landrith’s body was found just before 7 a.m. Sunday by a Department of Transportation worker plowing the roadway of snow, PennLive.com reported. She was fully clothed and a fur-lined black hat lay nearby.
The hat was soaked with blood.
Landrith did not have identification with her, but troopers found several receipts in a pocket that showed she had been traveling in Indiana and Wisconsin.
State police said Landrith also had ties to Utah and South Dakota. They ultimately identified her body through fingerprints.
Investigators who searched through the pockets of Landrith’s jeans and leather jacket also stumbled upon a piece of paper bearing a cellphone number and a name: Tracy Rollins.
According to the Daily Item, the troopers first backtracked Landrith’s movements based on the receipts they’d found. Surveillance video from the businesses where she had shopped showed a man fitting Rollins’ description in those same places in Indiana and Wisconsin, at the same time Landrith was there.
They were also able to place Rollins and Landrith together in Ohio, an arrest affidavit states. Their timeline shows that Landrith had traveled with Rollins for several days.
They believe she was killed the night before her body was found, according to WBRE in Wilkes-Barre.
Detectives got a search warrant for data from Rollins’ phone number and determined that his cellphone matched the date, time and location of the receipts and surveillance footage, authorities said.
The data put him in the area of the interstate exit where Landrith was dumped for about 15 minutes Sunday morning, beginning at 12:11 a.m. The Daily Item reported that when he left, he headed east for about 90 miles before going north to Maine.
The trucker picked up a haul from a paper mill in Woodland, Maine, on Tuesday. Investigators were able to verify he was there because he’d signed his name on a COVID-19 questionnaire, the newspaper reported.
The same day, investigators learned that Landrith’s 2007 Honda Civic had been towed four days earlier from a Citgo gas station in Milford, Connecticut, where the owner said it had been abandoned for several days.
Employees at the Pilot Travel Center next to the gas station told troopers Landrith frequented the truck stop and often associated with the truck drivers there, the Daily Item reported.
The Milford truck stop was likely where Landrith and Rollins met and began traveling together.
Meanwhile, troopers in Connecticut were on the lookout for Rollins’ truck, which they spotted Wednesday at a TA Travel Center in Milldale, the affidavit states. As he drove away, they executed a traffic stop and took him in for questioning.
From outside the truck, the troopers could see what appeared to be a cleaning solution on the passenger seat and the floorboard, investigators wrote.
Rollins denied knowing Landrith’s name or recognizing a photo of the former model, but told detectives he’d been traveling with a woman named “Leslie” whose car had broken down at a Connecticut truck stop.
The affidavit alleges that records of a hotel in Milford, where Landrith met up with Rollins, showed that Landrith had booked a room there in December using the alias “Leslie Myers.”
Rollins said he and the woman he knew as Leslie traveled together as he worked through numerous states, including New York and Illinois, in addition to the ones authorities already knew about.
Then he had a slip of the tongue, investigators allege.
“When asking Rollins information pertaining to his travels, Rollins stated ‘I hate to start lying to you because this is a murder investigation,’” a trooper wrote.
At that point, no one had told Rollins that Landrith was dead.
Meanwhile, detectives had obtained a search warrant for Rollins’ 2018 Volvo tractor-trailer. It became immediately apparent that something extremely violent had taken place inside the cab.
PennLive.com reported that the powdered cleaning agent troopers had already observed covered up blood, along with six 9 mm shell casings on the floorboard in front of and behind the passenger seat. There were also “bullet strikes” in the wall behind the seat and into the bunk where a driver could sleep while on the road.
“The location of these bullet strikes indicates that the rounds were discharged from within the cab of the truck,” the affidavit states.
Human tissue was also found on the mattress of the bottom bunk, including brain tissue. More tissue was found on the top step outside the passenger-side door.
It is not clear at what point in their travels that Landrith was slain, or how long Rollins traveled with her body in the truck, the Daily Item reported.
On Friday, Rollins remained in the Hartford County Jail in lieu of $1 million. He was awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania to face the charges in Landrith’s death.
According to her bio on the Ms. Manhattan website, Landrith was born in Alexandria. She described herself as having a “bright and bubbly personality, energetic (and) easygoing.” Besides modeling, she wrote, she was highly educated and once worked in the law field.
“I adore fashion and the industry, and am a warm weather person with a warm heart,” she wrote.
“Becky was deeply loved by her family and we are heartbroken by her death,” George Landrith told WBRE. “Particularly by how horrible it must have been. She was such a good and kind person, our heart aches for her.”