Nacole Smith, 14, was beaten, sexually assaulted, and murdered. It would take 26 years to find her murderer.
The Murder of Nacole Smith
On the morning of June 7, 1995, 14-year-old Nacole Smith had been walking, with her sister, to school when she realized that she had forgotten a school assignment at home. As she made her way back to her house, she decided to take a shortcut through a wooded area just off of Childress Drive in a northeast section of Atlanta, Georgia. It was there that she was physically and sexually assaulted, and shot twice in the face. She succumbed to her injuries. Although an extensive investigation was conducted and DNA evidence was collected at the scene, the police gained no leads which forced the case to go cold.
The Connecting Assault
In 2004, nine years after Smith’s assault and murder, another sexual assault took place in an East Point, GA neighborhood. The victim, a 13 year-old-girl, was able to escape the attack.
Investigators were able to link DNA evidence collected from the victim in 2004 to the Nacole Smith case from 1995. They determined that the same person had committed both attacks. During the investigation, hundreds of witnesses were interviewed and the story was featured on the television program America’s Most Wanted.
Police also determined that the suspect DNA and other identity markers (such as fingerprints, etc…) were not cataloged in any other local or national database. It is fortunate that the young girl was able to provide details to a police sketch artist. Again, with no leads, both cases went cold.
DNA Link to Kevin Arnold
It wasn’t until 2021 that investigators were able to use genetic and ancestral databases to find a DNA match that linked the suspect to both victims.
There are not a lot of details known about the 49-year-old Fulton County, GA suspect, Kevin Arnold. According to WSB-TV2 Atlanta, his identity was announced by Nacole Smith’s mother, Acquenellia Smith. She stated that he lived in their neighborhood. His death in August 2021, while in hospice care, is attributed to kidney and liver failure. Although his DNA matched that of the suspect who committed both attacks, he was never arrested or formally charged in either case.
In a show of bravery, the victim in the second attack identified herself as Betty Brown. She was quoted as saying, “He is no longer out there able to do the things that he did to me and Nacole and to the others,”