Police search for Ballantyne murder suspect

Police search for Ballantyne murder suspect

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by Diana Rugg / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on January 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 16 at 11:27 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have named a suspect in the murder of a pregnant restaurant manager whose body was found behind a dumpster at a popular Ballantyne shopping center.

Police have sworn out warrants for Mark Anthony Cox, 22, for murder and two counts of armed robbery in the death of Danielle Marie Watson, 25.  Watson's boyfriend said she was the manager of the Flying Biscuit Cafe in StoneCrest shopping center, and was robbed and killed while closing up Friday night.

Police said Cox was an employee at the restaurant.

CMPD said officers responded to a call for a robbery and larceny at the restaurant just before 6:30 Saturday morning.  While they were there, a garbage truck operator told officers he found a woman's body behind a dumpster he was emptying.

Police confirmed the woman was Watson, who worked at the Flying Biscuit.

Her car was also missing, and police believe it was stolen during the robbery.  They are looking for a baby blue, 1997 Chevy Cavalier with license tag ZYX1952.  They're asking anyone who sees it to call 911.

Watson's boyfriend, Keith Smith, said Watson had only worked at the restaurant for about five weeks.  She was excited about her new job, and the couple had plans to marry after finding out Watson was two months pregnant.

"An easy word is firecracker," said Smith Saturday night.  "She's amazing.  You meet her and you love her, period."

But Friday night Smith got one last text from Watson, saying the kitchen was "slow" and she wished she could be home with him.  Smith said Watson often stayed at his house.

An hour later, around 10 p.m. -- one hour after closing time -- Smith said he got a call from Watson's number, but there was only background noise on the other end.  The call hung up abruptly.

"Now that I know what happened," Smith said, "I swear it was her calling me with what was happening and letting the phone go so I could hear what was happening."

Smith said calls and texts over the next two hours got no answer.  Finally, around midnight, he called 911 and told the operator he was worried about Watson.

A CMPD press release said an officer went to an address in the 3900 block of Rea Road, looking for a business called "Plum Biscuits."   The Flying Biscuit is in the 7900 block of Rea Road.

The statement said the officer found a private residence and no one answered the door.  The officer then searched a nearby shopping complex for a business named Plum Biscuits and didn't find one.  

No officer ever went to the Flying Biscuit until the later call around 6:30 a.m., said the statement.

Smith said around 8:30 a.m., Watson's mother called Smith looking for her.  Smith said a detective told him Saturday afternoon while they were on their way to police headquarters that Watson was dead.

"It's like you hear it, but you don't..." he said, his voice trailing off.

"All I want to do is find this guy and tear him apart," said Smith.  "(He) killed my baby...."  

He paused for several seconds, shaking his head.  "Both of them," he added.

Anyone who sees the car is asked to call 911 immediately.  Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Unit Detective.

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