Man wanted in Illinois cold case caught in Albany by Worth Co. deputies

Man wanted in Illinois cold case caught in Albany by Worth Co. deputies

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A man who was wanted in connection to a 33-year-old murder investigation out of Rockford, Ill. was taken into custody in Albany Thursday by Worth County deputies, according to Chief Deputy Raymond Drennon with the Worth County Sheriff’s Office.

Drennon said new evidence in an Illinois case of a young woman who was killed 33-years ago, led authorities to track Jesse Smith Jr., 64, of Mississippi, to Georgia.

Houston County then reached out to Worth County for assistance, Drennon told WALB News 10.

According to Drennon, they used GPS to track Smith, where he was found and pulled over at the Clark Avenue on-ramp to the Liberty Expressway in Albany Thursday afternoon.

Jesse Smith Jr.
Jesse Smith Jr. (Source: Dougherty County Jail)

BACKGROUND ON THE CASE:

According to our sister station, WIFR, Tammy Tracey, a 19-year-old dental assistant, disappeared from Rockford, Ill. on May 27, 1987.

Nearly a year later, her remains were found in a wooded area on April 15, 1988, WIFR reported.

Our sister station said a medical examiner determined that Tracey had been shot and stabbed.

#BREAKING #LIVE: New details of the 33-year-old Rockford murder case of 19-year-old Tammy Tracey in 1987 in Rockford from City of Rockford, Winnebago County and State of Illinois authorities.

#BREAKING #LIVE: New details of the 33-year-old Rockford murder case of 19-year-old Tammy Tracey in 1987 in Rockford from City of Rockford, Winnebago County and State of Illinois authorities.

Posted by WIFR TV on Thursday, November 19, 2020

WIFR said that for years, Linda Tracey, Tammy’s mother and law enforcement knew who was responsible for her death, however, there wasn’t enough evidence to make any arrests or file indictments.

In May of this year, WFIR said Tracey’s mom put up a $15,000 reward for any arrests in this case.

According to Winnebago County, Ill. officials during a press conference Thursday, Smith lived in Rockford, Ill. at the time of Tammy’s disappearance. Officials said Smith also knew and was an associate of the family at the time. Officials did not explain how Smith knew the family in 1987.

The details leading to Smith’s arrest on Thursday in the case have not been released at this time.


Smith was taken into custody and will be booked in the Dougherty County Jail for charges in the Illinois case, Drennon said. He was arrested on a $5 million warrant, according to officials during the press conference Thursday.

Below is a copy of the indictment from the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Officials said two small dogs were also taken into custody.

Albany police units were on scene with the Worth County deputies.

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