Rodney Puckett

Rodney Puckett speaks with defense attorney Stefanie Jones-Campbell during a hearing July 12 in Pinal County Superior Court.

FLORENCE — Rodney Puckett, 70, was found competent to stand trial Friday.

Puckett is charged with abandonment or concealment of a dead body after he was caught in an Eloy restaurant drive-through with his nude dead wife in the front seat in May.

On Friday the results of his prescreen competency tests were announced and defense attorney Stefanie Jones-Campbell told Pinal County Superior Court Judge Jason Holmberg that psychologists had determined that Puckett is competent to stand trial and that a Rule 11 motion challenging that was being withdrawn.

Puckett is scheduled to return to Superior Court on Oct. 11 at 9 a.m. for another pretrial conference.

Puckett, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, was arrested May 13 after restaurant employees noticed something suspicious in his vehicle when he pulled up to a drive-through window at Carl’s Jr. in Eloy.

Employees told police two nude people were inside a vehicle when they arrived at the drive-through window to retrieve their food.

The vehicle was located by a police detective who happened to be dining inside the restaurant in the area of Toltec Road and Interstate 10 at 7:15 a.m. The officer was alerted to the vehicle by employees and noticed a “nude deceased female” in the front passenger’s seat.

The “nude deceased female” was later identified as 74-year-old Linda Puckett, Rodney Puckett’s soon-to-be ex-wife.

The two were going through a divorce and she had an order of protection filed against him in Oklahoma.

The detective noted, “the woman was upside down in the seat and her buttocks were facing upwards,” according to the police probable cause statement.

Rodney Puckett was wearing only his underwear and was placed under arrest. In a later interview, he told police they were traveling from Oklahoma to California and Linda died during an overnight stay at a Hampton Inn in El Paso, Texas.

He told investigators that his ex-wife slept nude and he was unable to wake her that morning, so he loaded her onto a luggage cart, rolled it to the car and loaded her body inside, according to police records.

He had apparently driven 445 miles with his dead wife in the vehicle.

Puckett remains in the Pinal County jail pending the posting of a $100,000 bond.

The charge against him of abandonment or concealment of a dead body is a Class 5 felony, with a possible prison sentence of up to 2.5 years.


Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at