TURKEY CREEK, Ky. - The Williamson City Police Department (WPD) has received a number of tips regarding the whereabouts of Jerome “Oatmeal” Smith, following a profile of him in a Williamson Daily News “Mingo’s Most Wanted” article that ran on May 18.
Although previous tips failed to lead to his capture, the one called in to the WPD Tuesday afternoon resulted in his arrest.
According to WPD Chief C.D. Rockel, he received an anonymous tip at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, in which the caller said that they had seen Smith at a residence on Nosbin Fork in Turkey Creek. The individual relayed to Chief Rockel that they had recognized Smith from his photo featured in the “Mingo’s Most Wanted” article.
“The caller told me that they were alarmed when they realized who Smith was,” said the chief. “They commented that it was disturbing knowing that a person who was wanted by the police for dealing drugs was now staying in a neighborhood that included several children and young adults.”
The chief contacted the Pike County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) to have an officer travel to the address with himself and Patrolman J. Taylor to make the arrest, if the defendant was present. PCSD Deputy Billy McCoy accompanied Rockel and Taylor to the residence, where a surprised Smith was taken into custody without incident.
“He was shocked to find us at the door,” said the chief. “We told him we were there with an arrest warrant from Mingo County and that we would be extraditing him back to Williamson upon notification from the Pike County Jail.”
Rockel said that although the defendant had lost weight and was now clean shaven, the caller providing the tip was still able to recognize him as being the fugitive featured in the Daily News.
“The picture of Smith that was used with the newspaper article showed him with a full beard and probably 30 pounds heavier than he was when we arrested him yesterday,” said the chief. “It’s been around two months since that article ran, but he was still recognized.
“This is additional proof that featuring fugitives and unsolved cases in the “Mingo’s Most Wanted” series definitely works.
“This makes four successful arrests that are credited to the readers of the Daily News that recognized the defendants and contacted the proper authorities.
“I would encourage any police agency in the county to take advantage of this opportunity to get the word out to the public when you’re searching for someone,” stated Rockel. “Sooner or later, someone’s going to pick up the paper, read the article and see the photo and say – Wait a minute, I know that person and I know where they are.”
Smith is currently lodged in the Pike County Detention Center where he is being held without bail, pending an extradition hearing. After returning to Mingo County, he will be arraigned on one count of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance. Smith had been indicted by the April grand jury on the felony charge.
The indictment was unsealed in May at Rockel’s request, so that his information could be featured in the Daily News article. The chief also entered the warrant in the National Crime Information Center computer, which enables any law enforcement agency across the U.S. to arrest the fugitive and hold him until the WPD could transfer him back to Mingo.
“We had received several tips that Smith was in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and we had made contact with their police departments about him,” said the chief. “Although the tips were credible, we weren’t able to pinpoint an exact location and make an arrest until we got the call yesterday about someone seeing him in the Turkey Creek area.
“In less than an hour after getting the tip, we pulled in the driveway, knocked on the door and took him into custody.
“Defendants may think they can hide and that they’re not going to be caught, but when your picture is printed in the newspaper and is also featured on their website, chances are high that if you’re anywhere near the town in which you’re wanted, someone is going to recognize you and call the police.”
Chief Rockel expressed his appreciation to the members of the public who have performed a great service to the Tug Valley area by calling in tips that have now led to four arrests.