Man put wife’s naked body upside down in passenger seat on Arizona trip, cops say

Rodney Puckett
Rodney Puckett Pinal County Sheriff's Department

A 70-year-old man found driving across Arizona on Monday with his dead wife in the passenger seat had only underwear on when police stopped him, KNXV reports.

Officers found the body of Linda Puckett, 74, naked and upside down on the seat next to Rodney Puckett outside a Carl’s Jr. just off Interstate 10 in Eloy, The Arizona Republic reported.

In yet another twist, security video from a hotel in El Paso, Texas, appears to show Rodney Puckett wheeling his wife’s body out to his vehicle on a luggage cart, Eloy police wrote in a statement.

A fast-food worker at an Eloy drive-through first alerted police to the situation, KNXV reported.

“I so happened to look on the passenger side and that’s when I seen he had the lady in there, she was like completely naked,” said Maria Davis, according to the station. “The way she was face down, like laying down, and then I seen the color of her feet were like purple.”

Davis described Rodney Puckett as “normal” and “calm” as she took his order while trying to stall to notify police, KNXV reported.

When an Eloy officer pulled Rodney Puckett over, he spotted LInda Puckett’s body lying with her head on the floorboards and her feet near the headrest, the police statement reads.

Rodney Puckett told the officer his wife had died Sunday night at a hotel in El Paso, Texas, police wrote in the statement.

“When Rodney was unable to wake Linda, he loaded her onto a luggage cart and then placed her in his vehicle,” police wrote. “It is not clear what his intentions were at this point.”

A security video shows Rodney Puckett pushing the luggage cart out of the hotel early the next morning with what appears to be a woman’s body hidden under a blanket, police wrote.

An initial examination of Linda Puckett’s body showed signs of “minor blunt force trauma,” but an official cause of death remains pending further tests, police wrote.

The Sand Springs, Oklahoma, residents had been granted protective orders against each other in January and February, and Linda Puckett “filed for a legal separation from her husband” Feb. 8, The Tulsa World reported.

Eloy police arrested Rodney Puckett on suspicion of abandonment or concealment of a body, police wrote. Detectives are working with Texas authorities to investigate Linda Puckett’s death.

“I have been in law enforcement and with the Eloy Police Department for 17 years and this is the most bizarre case I have ever seen in Eloy,” said Sgt. Kristie Barnette of the Eloy Police Department, KNXV reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.