FBI renewing interest in North Little Rock cold case

New effort sparked to solve North Little Rock cold case

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- A woman last seen at a North Little Rock truck stop was found more than a week later, dead in a ditch in Memphis.

This story, which first made headlines in 2006, is once again drawing the attention of the FBI. A 19-year-old girl, seeing the world for the first time, is found bound and murdered on the side of the road.

It has been 10 years since Tracy Jones was killed, sparking a new effort from the FBI to bring her killer to justice. The FBI is falling back on old school police methods to solve a cold case growing colder by the day.

"It really is kind of an old school way of doing things, but we are, we are knocking on doors, looking at physical paper receipts, trying to identify who the receipt belonged to,” said FBI Special Agent Jerry Spurgers, who worked the case then, and is reinvigorating efforts to bring her case to light yet again.

Billboards along the highway and seeking information posters at local police departments, that's how crimes were solved back in 2006, when Tracy Owana Jones disappeared, and it's the way the FBI hopes to solve her case today.

On November 15, 2006, Tracy Jones was selling magazines at the Pilot gas station of I-40 near Galloway. It's the last place the 19-year-old would be seen alive.

"On November the 26th, that same year, a body was found in Memphis that was later determined to be Tracy Jones. This body had been dumped off Highway 61 in the South part of Memphis,” the Special Agent explained.

"I wish now I'd said no to it, but she really was at an age, she didn't need my consent,” Tracy’s mother, Catherine Barbour told us over the phone.

The Oregon teen traveled with a group of magazine sales people cross-country. Something that seems like a crazy idea now, was fairly common then.

"Tracy had been to this truck stop on previous occasions. She was dropped off around noon that day who was also her manager,” Spurgers said.

He explained it wasn’t unusual for Tracy to get in the cab of a truck, so truck drivers could sign their paperwork and pay for the magazines.

"She always had her cell phone on her ear, practically glued to it. Her sister and I some of her friends had been trying to get ahold of her. There was no answer and that just wasn't like her,” said Barbour, adding she was told her daughter would be with a group at all times.

Because Tracy was bound, and also last seen at a truck stop, the FBI considered that her murder could be the work of a serial killer. Profilers in Quantico investigated that possibility, but came up with no match.

"At the same time back in 2006, really from 2000 on, there was a truck stop prostitute initiative that was being conducted between us, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and several other states, where we had individuals being abducted from truck stops. The MO with those didn't match exactly what we had with Tracy," Spurgers said. "A 19 year-old person being killed this far from home; I try to put myself in the parents' shoes and what they're going through, and I just feel obligated to do whatever I can do.” 

The case has haunted Spurgers since the day he was assigned to the case. Tracy’s mother said she’s made peace with the situation and has left the judgement up to God. We asked her what she would tell Tracy’s killer, if she could speak to him today.

"I hope he can get his heart straight with the Lord, because that's horrible what he did," she said.

The FBI is offering a reward of up-to $15,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Tracy's killer. If you have any information, contact the Little Rock FBI Field Office.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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