Xavier Perkins said he was trying to keep his wife and 8-year-old son off the street when he began a series of robberies on Sept. 5 in Denton.
After his arrest at about midnight Tuesday, the 28-year-old Denton resident sat in a city jail cell facing two robbery charges with more charges pending. Police said he admitted his involvement in 10 robberies between Sept. 5 and Monday at local convenience stores and hotels.
Investigators spent weeks looking for the suspect, trying to glean what little evidence they could from security cameras at the robbery locations and nearby businesses.
In police custody Tuesday afternoon, Perkins gave a jailhouse interview to the Denton Record-Chronicle and admitted to committing several robberies. He said legal fees from previous criminal charges, coupled with the cost of rent and an inability to find work, led to his actions.
"I was doing those robberies because [of], like I was telling [the investigators], my previous position in society — me already being incarcerated and after having felonies from other things," he said.
"I really couldn't find work or a job that really would put me in a position to be able to provide for myself and my family."
Perkins is accused of robbing the stores and hotels with what police now believe to be an airsoft gun, which fires only plastic pellets. In all the robberies, the suspect's head was wrapped in pieces of a T-shirt that had been cut in half, police said.
"When it comes down to it, when a person comes up and they're disguising their face and body, and they're displaying what looks like a real weapon, a lot of bad things can happen," Denton police spokesman Shane Kizer said. "People could be armed themselves. It could cause someone to pull out a weapon to hurt him, hurt someone else or hurt themselves."
Born and raised in Lufkin, Perkins said he worked odd jobs in Denton and Ponder when he first arrived in the city in 2016. He said he most recently worked at Acme Brick Co.'s Denton facility on Fort Worth Drive. He said he was forced to quit because of an issue with his staffing agency about two weeks before the first robbery on Sept. 5.
He said he had trouble finding other work because of previous felony charges. Perkins was no stranger to police in Lufkin, where he was arrested several times between 2009 and 2015 on charges ranging from theft to robbery. He served two years in state prison on a 2011 robbery charge, records show.
Perkins said he and his family had been living at the Renaissance Court apartments in the 1200 block of East Hickory Street when the robberies started Sept. 5. He had been behind on rent and was expecting an eviction notice, which arrived weeks later, he said.
Perkins had been staying at various hotels while committing robberies in the weeks before his arrest.
"That's the whole purpose of what I did, to try to get us out of debt and make sure that we were not on the street," he said. "I couldn't just sit around."
Perkins acknowledged that he was meticulous about the robberies. All 10 occurred in the late-night hours between about 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. He said he analyzed the areas beforehand to determine the least busy time.
"I didn't just jump out in view like a loose cannon or a chicken with his head cut off," he said.
The suspect's method of operation, which was almost identical in every robbery, made it difficult for police to determine his identity, according to Denton police Sgt. Danny Fletcher.
In addition to wrapping his face, Perkins wore various types of gloves and either a jacket or hooded sweatshirt. He had a calm demeanor, never pointed the gun directly at someone and left most stores quickly, Fletcher said.
Perkins also left the stores on foot and was never visually identified getting inside a vehicle, Fletcher said.
Fletcher, who oversees the major crimes unit, said police didn't have much evidence to go by until the third robbery on Sept. 6 at the Super 8 motel in the 600 block of South Interstate 35E. A similar robbery occurred about an hour earlier on the other side of town, and investigators decided that the suspect would have needed a vehicle to get to both locations.
Fletcher said police obtained video footage of a 2010 to 2012 white Ford Fusion with a sunroof leaving a nearby apartment complex a minute after the Super 8 robbery. He said that was enough for police to start sifting through registration records for hundreds of similar Ford Fusions in Denton.
"We spent a tremendous amount of time sifting through the vehicles," Fletcher said.
Meanwhile, the robberies continued through September. Police didn't know it at the time, but Perkins had actually been in Denton City Jail on Sept. 11 on an outstanding Denton police theft warrant. Police believe he robbed the Quality Inn & Suites on Dallas Drive 14 hours earlier.
Aside from the Ford Fusion, the only other evidence police gleaned from the ongoing robberies was the suspect's makeshift mask and a hoodie with light-colored "streaks" running across it, Fletcher said.
Then, in a robbery on Oct. 23 at the Dollar General on Sadau Court off Loop 288, investigators found an abandoned makeshift mask behind the store. They also found surveillance video of a 2010 to 2012 white Ford Fusion with a sunroof quickly leaving a nearby parking lot after the incident.
Investigators located the vehicle and tracked the registration to Perkins' wife. They soon discovered his previous criminal charges out of Denton, including an August shoplifting charge in which he ran from police, Fletcher said.
Denton police were able to obtain a warrant to place a tracking device on the Ford, and investigators starting monitoring its movement, Fletcher said.
Earlier this week, on Monday, they followed the vehicle to the parking lot of a Family Dollar store in the 100 block of Maple Street. The vehicle sat in the lot for about an hour before the driver entered the store wearing a makeshift mask, police said.
Police surrounded the store for 23 minutes while the suspect was inside, Fletcher said. He said the suspect had been trying to gain access to a safe in the back of the store, but a manager locked herself inside the room with the safe.
Police didn't engage the suspect at the Family Dollar because they didn't know whether the man's gun was loaded, Fletcher said. He said they didn't want to escalate the situation.
The man eventually left the Family Dollar and made his way into an E-Z Chek convenience store in the 700 block of Londonderry Lane for another robbery, police said. They watched the masked man leave after about a minute inside, Fletcher said.
The suspect eventually returned to the Super 8 motel in the 600 block of South I-35E, where police believed he had been staying at the time. Perkins told investigators he robbed the same hotel on Sept. 6, according to Fletcher.
Denton police waited for Perkins to come back down to the lobby before they arrested him on the robbery charges.
"I regret it," Perkins said. "My condolences go to the victims and the managers and store [employees] and everybody involved. But I'm not really that person to do these type of things. I have in my past, but it's not something I'm excited about ... . It [happens] when push comes to shove to do something like that."
JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.
In the Know
Denton police said Perkins confessed to 10 robberies between Sept. 5 and Monday:
Sept. 5: 7-Eleven, 1200 block of South Loop 288
Sept. 5: Corner Stop convenience store, 3200 block of North Elm Street
Sept. 6: Super 8 motel, 600 block of South Interstate 35E
Sept. 10: Quality Inn & Suites, 1500 block of Dallas Drive
Sept. 15: Dollar General, 3000 block of North Elm Street
Sept. 25: 7-Eleven, 1200 block of South Loop 288
Oct. 6: Exxon convenience store, 3600 block of South I-35E
Oct. 23: Dollar General, 2100 block of Sadau Court
Nov. 6: Family Dollar, 100 block of Maple Street
Nov. 6: E-Z Chek, 700 block of Londonderry Lane