The death of a 19-year-old Illinois woman more than 33 years ago led investigators to a man with Crossroads area connections before he was ultimately arrested for the crime in Georgia.

Authorities have searched since 1987 for the killer of 19-year-old dental assistant Tammy Tracey of Rockford, Ill. Her shot and stabbed body was found in a wooded area near Rockford on April 15, 1988.

Though authorities believed they knew the identity of her killer, there was never enough evidence to make any arrests – until now.

The evidence led them to 64-year-old Jesse Smith Jr and first to Prentiss County.

Sheriff Randy Tolar said Smith had previously lived in the county and still owned a house and property on County Road 8021 south of the Prentiss-Alcorn County line and west of US Highway 45. Tolar said while Smith was no longer a full-time resident of the county, he did come back regularly to visit his property.

“Federal authorities, assisting Illinois authorities reached out to our department to confirm whether Smith was currently residing at the address or elsewhere. We determined Smith didn’t presently live at the Prentiss County address but was living in Alabama and would come back to his Prentiss County property on CR 8021 occasionally to check on things,” he said.

Smith was captured Thursday in Albany, Ga. after he was tracked by GPS and pulled over by deputies. He is being held in jail Georgia pending extradition to Illinois in the case.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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