Local man pleads guilty in shotgun slayings of auto parts store workers

Theodore Sims. (Jail photo)
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Theodore Wayne Sims, 48, of Harker Heights, who’s accused of shooting two Temple auto shop employees in the head after binding them with duct tape in March 2018, will spend the rest of his life prison after he pleaded guilty Thursday to capital murder.

Sims, who was named in indictments in June 2018 charging capital murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an earlier incident in which employees at another store in Belton were threatened, also pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault charge Thursday, adding another 20 years to his sentence.

He remains in the Bell County Jail where he's been held since his arrest on March 15, 2018, a day after police found Cody Glenn Cornell, 25, and Robert Joseph Pellerin III, 35, bound in duct tape and dead of shotgun wounds to the head at the O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 1720 SW H.K. Dodgen Loop, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The two men were lying face down in a pool of blood in the store’s back office, the affidavit said.

Pellerin had been shot twice, the affidavit said.

Officers determined that cash had been taken from the store’s cash register.

After Sims’ arrest, investigators recovered a black 12-gauge shotgun with “blood and matter on and in it” from the trunk of his car and a white O’Reilly’s transmission box containing plastic bags that had been ripped open that are similar to the bags the store uses to store the day’s cash receipts before deposit, the affidavit said.

They also recovered a pair of shoes and pants “with blood and matter on them as well,” the affidavit says.

Sims’ wallet, which was in the car, contained $258 and another $1,970 was found in a black back packet, the affidavit says.

Spent shotgun shell casings were found in the driver’s side door pocket and “drops of blood, which field tested positive for human blood, were found on the driver’s side floorboard, door and console.”

Sims purchased the shotgun at 4:15 p.m. on the day of the murders from a pawnshop in Temple, the affidavit said.

He asked for the cheapest shotgun and paid $145 for the weapon, the affidavit says.

After the deadly shooting, Sims checked into the Red Lion Motel in Killeen.

After he checked out the next morning, a maid found a large towel under the bathroom sink and when she unrolled it found a washcloth covered in blood, the affidavit said.

Sims worked for more than two years at the O’Reilly’s store on SW H.K. Dodgen as well as at the store at 5713 West Adams Ave., but quit on Dec. 29, 2017, the affidavit said.

Investigators linked him to the Temple murder after reviewing surveillance video from a nearby self-storage facility that showed a spray-painted car pulling into a parking lot behind the store.

The video showed a heavyset man getting out of the car, going to the trunk and retrieving an unspecified item.

Subsequent video showed the man returning to the car carrying two objects.

A Temple police sergeant who had overheard Bell County Sheriff’s Department radio traffic about an incident earlier in the evening on March 14 2018, at the NAPA Auto Parts store at 1000 East 6th Ave. in Belton in which two employees were threatened by a man armed with a shotgun made the connection between to the two incidents and notified detectives, the affidavit said.

In that incident, the store’s assistant manager and an employee said they were leaving the store when a Nissan Altima with its lights off pulled into the parking lot.

The Altima had been “crudely spray-painted black all over,” the affidavit says.

“The victim recognized the Nissan Altima as it belonged to an ex-employee, the suspect, Theodore Dwayne Sims, who had been fired the previous week for stealing,” an arrest affidavit says.

Sims pulled up to where the men were standing, pulled a shotgun from between the seats and began chasing the two, yelling “don’t run, don’t run,” the affidavit says.

Sims was dressed entirely in black and wore a ski mask that covered his face.

The two men were able to elude Sims, the affidavit says.

Sims worked at the Belton store for about two months, but was fired on March 6, 2018 after the store’s owner discovered he had stolen $100.