Knoxville (WVLT) -- A former Knoxville newspaper reporter is now charged with kidnapping three pre-teen girls and threatening to kill them.
Police say Kevin Lee Pettiford loaded up his niece, and three of her friends into his SUV on Tuesday and told them they were going for ice cream.
Instead, they allege Pettiford told the girls he planned to rob a bank, buy them clothes, and then kill them.
The ride ended when one of the girls used her cellphone to call her mother from the bathroom of a fast-food restaurant.
He now faces charges of reckless endangerment, third offense driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law and three charges of especially aggravated kidnapping.
Pettiford wrote for the News Sentinel from 2001 until 2003 and more recently he was employed by the Knoxville Journal.