Letter found in safety deposit box may have led police to Tammy Tracey murder suspect


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Wednesday, Jesse Smith pleaded not guilty. The 64-year-old is accused of killing Rockford’s Tammy Tracey more than 30 years ago.

Smith faces 12 counts of First Degree Murder.

Smith lived on Willard Avenue as recently as 2001. Investigators said he knew the Tracey family.

19-year-old Tracey disappeared from Searls Park on May 27th, 1987, where she had gone to wax her car. Later that evening, she failed to meet a family member at Ingersoll Golf Course.

Her remains were found in the Sugar River Forest Preserve on April 15, 1988. Police said she had been shot and stabbed to death.

Stateline authorities searching for her killer but weeks turned into months, which turned into decades.

Smith’s attorney says a letter found in a safe deposit box led investigators to his client. He questions if it will hold up in court.

“If we’re going to be dealing with a statement from a person beyond the grave, can’t really cross examine someone who’s not present for me to do that and that can be challenging. But, again, I don’t, at this moment, I don’t even know how that would be admissible,” said Attorney Christopher DeRango.

Smith is due back in court on February 2nd.


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